European football chiefs clash over revamp of club competitions
Last Updated: 08/10/19 2:36pm
The heads of two of European football's leading bodies clashed on Tuesday over their philosophies for the future of club competitions.
Andreas Agnelli, the Juventus chairman and president of the European Clubs Association (ECA), re-iterated plans to revamp European club competition by introducing a third tier beneath the Europa League and encouraging a system of promotion through the pyramid, based solely on performance in Europe, not through domestic results.
His argument is based on the fact that Europe's elite clubs will qualify regardless of the system in place, whereas teams like Leicester and Celtic (two of the examples he cited) would benefit from being able to grow and develop within European competition rather than risk missing out due to domestic performance or having to play qualifiers every year due to a lower coefficient.
"Whatever changes are brought, I don't think they will change the participation of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or PSG," said Agnelli.
"I think what's important is creating a system that a team like Leicester, if they do qualify and enter the system they can grow with it and not just relegated to domestic relevance, that's what we should be looking at.
"What is happening today, unless you are part of the 12 or 15 teams that participate practically every year, participating in European competition is not just winning the lottery, but is the new axis to a progressive system that allows you to grow and potentially turn your brand into a global brand."
However, Lars-Christer Olsson, chairman of the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (European Leagues) believes qualification for European club competitions should be based on domestic performance on a season-by-season basis. The European Leagues do not believe the ECA's proposal would work and would in effect encourage a "closed league".
"Meritocracy for me should be sporting success, which should be reflected in the international competitions based on recent success," said Olsson.
"If we take the Premier League as an example and Leicester is a good example, I think even Brighton should be able to win the Premier League and represent England in the Champions League for example.
"For me, it's not a problem that Real Madrid is winning the Champions League three times in a row if they are good enough. That is what I mean by meritocracy. If Real Madrid are the best team three years in a row and they are developing their football so they can beat anyone else, that's fine. But not if it's based on all the titles in the past. It's what they are delivering now that should see them be in international competitions.
"That is also what makes it interesting for the fans. It means that every domestic season is interesting when it comes to the qualification for the international positions. And in an ideal situation that should be different teams from year to year, in my opinion. And this is where Leicester comes in, and hopefully where Brighton comes in as well."
The pair were both speaking at Leaders in Sports Business Summit in London. The plans under discussion will not come into effect until after the current international cycle of competition ends in 2024.