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European football format to be decided at ECA meeting

Champions League trophy

The European Club Association are set to meet in Geneva on Tuesday to decide what the future of European football will look like from 2024.

UEFA had proposed a revamped Champions League structure with four groups of eight clubs, as opposed to the eight groups of four that exist at the moment. That would mean 14 games with some of those fixtures to be played at the weekend.

There are also suggestions 24 of the 32 teams taking part would be guaranteed places in the competition for the following season, no matter how well they performed domestically.

Jordan Henderson lifts Champions League trophy
Image: Liverpool beat Spurs to win last season's Champions League

However, the plans have been met with opposition from leagues, fan groups, and chief executives. Earlier this year, Premier League clubs unanimously voiced their concerns.

It is understood there are worries the changes would lead to overcrowded calendars, with leagues having to alter some domestic fixtures. There is also a sense many want merit-based qualification to all competitions.

Cahill and Azpilicueta with the Europa League trophy
Image: Chelsea won the Europa League last season

As such, it is thought the ECA will reconsider the original proposals and any changes will be far less radical than anything initially envisaged.

Some of ECA's key principles

• More European matches with higher quality and a more competitive environment at all levels;

Also See:

• Greater financial stability;

• Links between how clubs perform in domestic leagues and how they access European competitions.

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli during the Serie A match between Torino FC and Juventus at Stadio Olimpico di Torino on December 16, 2018 in Turin, Italy.
Image: Juventus president Andrea Agnelli has radical plans for Champions League

'Radical plan won't please everyone'

Chairman of the European Club Association Andrea Agnelli still supports a radical but stalled plan to reform the Champions League, and warns some will not like the final agreement reached with UEFA.

Juventus president Agnelli prefers a proposal for eight-team groups that would create more Champions League games between elite clubs from 2024. It is resisted by leagues in England, Spain, and elsewhere who fear their 20-team schedules being squeezed.

The original plan worked on by UEFA and clubs also suggested 24 of 32 entries being retained year-on-year, closing off qualifying paths for clubs from lower-ranked leagues. They could earn promotion from the second-tier Europa League.

Defending the "good proposal" after a two-day European Club Association meeting, Agnelli says it is "in the interests of all."

Eventual UEFA-approved changes by 2022 will be "a solution to fit the majority, not all" of ECA's members.

Agnelli says "we can't go beyond" satisfying 70-80% of the group's 230-plus clubs.

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