Major Champions League format change proposed by top clubs - reports
UEFA is set to be asked to radically overhaul the Champions League's format to allow for more games between the continent's elite clubs across two "mini super leagues," according to multiple reports in England.
The new format would involve an initial knockout round of 32 teams before the 16 winners advance into two groups of eight. The winners of those two "super leagues" would then advance to the final.
The format -- one of several proposals, according to Sky Sports -- would be similar to the final season of the European Cup in 1991-92, when there were two knockout rounds followed by two groups of four teams, with the winners advancing to a final.
However, this new proposal would ensure that teams reaching the group stage would play a minimum of 14 games after the knockout round, with the majority likely to come against big-name opposition.
A source close to the talks told The Times: "The Champions League is losing audiences and interest lately -- you have seen that at games like Real Madrid versus BATE Borisov. The group system in the future needs to ensure that there are more interesting games and less uninteresting ones -- if you have two groups of eight, every team in these groups have 14 very good games."
The Daily Telegraph said some teams may attempt to "propose the right to automatic entry" to the group stage to avoid the risk of elimination in the knockout round but added: "That will be opposed by other clubs."
The Telegraph said a group of European clubs -- particularly in Germany, Italy and Spain -- are behind the scheme as they want to increase revenue amid concerns that the Premier League's new television deal will see English sides leave their continental counterparts behind.
Sources told ESPN FC earlier this month that the top Premier League clubs were happy with the current Champions League format.
It had been reported that Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool met with a representative of Relevent Sports to discuss a European Super League, but the clubs have denied that was the topic of discussion and German newspaper FAZ subsequently said that the European Club Association (ECA) was behind the drive to shake up the current system.
ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who is also Bayern Munich's CEO, then confirmed that clubs and UEFA were considering a third European competition to be placed above the Champions League and Europa League. The Champions League format change could be adopted as a compromise.
The Manchester Evening News said on Thursday that Manchester City are opposed to a European Super League, with the report saying: "City make the point that a Super League would be detrimental to the Premier League, which makes at least three times as much revenue for them as the Champions League."
UEFA told The Guardian that no changes could be made before the 2018-19 season as the current cycle, which refers to the regulations agreed by all parties including television companies, does not end until 2018.
The UEFA spokesperson said: "UEFA is in constant contact with all stakeholders, including the clubs, on all football matters. Therefore, any plans to evolve the format of our club competitions would be coordinated and negotiated together with them.
"There are currently no concrete proposals on the table since we are at the beginning of a new cycle [2015-18] of our club competitions."