Column: Champions League overhaul win for Super League rebels


Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate, 2nd right, celebrates with his team mates after scoring his team’s first goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final 1st leg soccer match between Benfica and Liverpool at Luz Stadium in Lisbon , Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (AP Photo/ Armand Franca)


Remember when the power and influence of Europe’s wealthiest clubs was about to be tamed by the collapse of the Super League rebellion?

It was only a year ago. Yet a partial revolution shaped by the elite is still underway in European football.

Perhaps in the spirit of avoiding further rifts, UEFA failed to exploit any leverage it had over rebel clubs to reshape the Champions League to shift the balance of power even slightly. .

On the contrary, wealthier clubs will be able to spend even more after the Financial Fair Play replacement is approved by UEFA’s executive committee on Thursday. And if they miss out on the Champions League thanks to their domestic league standings, a two-heavyweight qualification safety net has been provided from 2024 based on their all-time record.

You only have to look at Spain to see how much difference being in the Champions League can make for a club. Sevilla earned a total of 34.6 million euros ($38 million) from winning the Europa League in 2020 but could have generated at least double that from a lackluster Champions League campaign. In the same season, Valencia collected 60.8 million euros ($66 million) for reaching the Champions League in the round of 16.

From 2024, playing in the Champions League will involve more matches which could test fan interest.

What appetite is there for a new group stage based on a single ranking, going from 32 to 36 teams and 10 rather than six games each?

Only eight teams will automatically qualify for the Round of 16. But even finishing 24th out of 36 will guarantee entry into the 16-team playoff round, removing much of the danger from later games. It’s another protection against failure that allows a leading club to err in the group stage and still have a path to the knockout stages.

UEFA failed to seize the opportunity to scale back expansion following the Super League debacle. Domestic leagues hoping for eight group stage matches have been pushed back. All talk of UEFA reconsidering the historic places of merit – which would have allowed Arsenal to return to the Champions League this season – has been pushed back.

UEFA will view the Champions League revamp as integral to growing the value of its most lucrative commercial and broadcast asset and to fending off future breakaway attempts.

Other changes are characterized as reacting to the perceived improvement in the financial viability of clubs after a decade of FFP by introducing a new regulatory system around team cost controls and a football revenue rule that does not limit spending as heavily.

According to a document shared between Spanish clubs and seen by The Associated Press, eligible losses will double to 60 million euros ($65 million) over three years. But clubs deemed to be in “good financial health” will be allowed additional losses of €10m a year.

Rather than introducing a salary cap, team spending on player and manager salaries, transfers and agent fees will be capped at 70% of revenue by the 2025-26 season after being phased in at 90% and 80% in the previous two seasons.

Sporting sanctions could see a team entrenched in the points or relegated from the Champions League. Fines are set based on exceeding spending limits. A 0-10% overrun in the first season could see clubs lose between 10-25% of their UEFA revenue. But in the fourth season of application, 75% to 100% of this prize money and TV money could be deducted for exceeding the threshold by the same amount.

On the other hand, clubs 65% below the spending cap could see the fines redistributed between them.

An important character is on board. Javier Tebas, the Spanish league president, has spent years opposing Manchester City’s investment of Abu Dhabi and Qatar in Paris Saint-Germain.

“This is a historic moment,” Tebas said, “implementing spending limits for teams at European level for the first time and requiring operations to be market-based, countering the destructive inflationary effect of club-owned clubs. the state”.

However, City and PSG are yet to win the Champions League. Controlling the value of sponsorships tied to their property will be crucial to the integrity of any revenue-related regulations.

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was one of the big winners to emerge from the Super League mess after refusing to become the 13th founding member and rising from the wreckage to lead the Association European clubs.

There seems to be more trust between UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin and Al-Khelaifi than with his ECA predecessor Andrea Agnelli.

Ceferin has shown he is willing to work together with major clubs and leagues rather than act in the deceitful way of Agnelli, who opted for a new Champions League format with UEFA last April before moving on to launch his own largely closed club. rival competition.

All Agnelli seems to have lost is his role as ECA president and his seat on the UEFA executive committee which endorses decisions.

The Champions League concessions that Agnelli helped craft – and negotiated in bad faith last year – are coming anyway. Even though Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid continue to threaten a Super League.

The harmony of European football was favored by UEFA rather than an assertion of control over clubs. The search for a competitive balance continues.


Rob Harris is on


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Lynn A. Saleh