A revised Champions League and Arsenal’s chances of being in it

Changes are proposed to the current CL format

A revised Champions League and Arsenal’s chances of being in it

So what is the future for European club football?

UEFA are reportedly proposing four eight team groups for the next change to the format of the Champions League. It would mean 14 group matches for each side. Top four in the group go to the last 16 knockout rounds as we have now, meaning 21 matches for the two sides that reach the final (currently they play 13). 5th and 6th place teams go into the Europa League for the remainder of that season (and all the top six teams are guaranteed CL participation the following year), whilst the 7th and 8th sides are in a play-off to decide who remains in the CL 32 the following season, the other presumably being relegated to the Europa League for that campaign. Think of the Europa League as a kind of English Championship division with the Champions League being the Premier League.

I am guessing qualification for the Europa League would be on merit, and that promotion for four teams to the Champions League would be based on reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League. So effectively the Europa League quarter finals become qualifiers for a much bigger (financial) prize, arguably more important that winning the trophy itself.

This idea will perpetuate the involvement of the top clubs on a habitual basis and it will be more difficult for the smaller fry to break the existing cartel. A bad domestic season would make no difference, so if it became obvious that, say, Chelsea were not going to win the Premier League by January, they might start fielding weakened teams as most currently do in the FA and League Cup. It waters down the competitiveness of the domestic league.

The Premier League clubs rejected this proposal (even though it was only publicized in the Spanish press) – mainly I suspect because it would provide more TV matches of higher quality and weaken the value of their own product.

However, initially, Arsenal might struggle to even be in that first 32 teams. Certainly if the first version of the competition in the revised format is based on the normal qualification criteria (i.e. a top four Premier League finish). Arsenal’s best hope would probably be making the semi-finals of the Europa League and getting promotion that way. We can’t rule out UEFA might use another process such as UEFA co-efficient for the debut season of the new format. On this score, Arsenal are home and dry, largely thanks to their Europa League runs, which put them in 8th place among the European clubs (equal with Liverpool).

This isn’t going to happen next season, by the way, but is UEFA’s answer to the discussions among the European Club Association (ECA). They are believed to want a similar format in terms of four groups of eight teams (i.e. more matches, more TV money), and claim they want participation based on “sporting meritocracy” not “historical privilege”. This is a response to reports that top clubs are looking for permanent membership of a Champions League-style elite competition. UEFA seem to be bending over backwards to them as a way of preventing them breaking away and simply forming their own competition.

One thing is certain. The agenda of the top clubs is to make even more money from television, and in the case of the top clubs in Spain, Italy and Germany – to close the gap on the earnings from broadcasting of the English clubs. Their domestic television income is less valuable at present for the simple reason that the matches in their leagues are less competitive. In England we have a top six who people believe can challenge for the title (I know, I know – but believe it or not Arsenal are still regarded as a big club by the broadcasters). In Spain there is a top three (at least until Diego Simeone departs Atletico), in Germany a top two and in Italy, if you fancy a bet with regencyracing.co.uk, there’s only one team anyone is going to put their money on.

The prospect of Arsenal being part of this superleague, however it is devised, will make it far less likely that Stan Kroenke will entertain any bids to buy the club from him. TV revenue and its expected continued growth through the greater exploitation of worldwide markets is what floats his boat when it comes to his Premier League football team. The appointment of Raul Sanllehi from Barcelona, a mover and shaker and influential voice within the ECA, was partly with an eye on ensuring the Gunners did not lose out on their place at the trough when changes to the existing format are made.

Currently, any such changes are proposed for 2024. In truth, any attempt to alter the football calendar before that is going to be heavily compromised by the 2022 World Cup taking place between 21 November and 18 December, with countries undoubtedly wanting their players for (I’d estimate) 10 days before the tournament begins at a minimum.

So this isn’t going to be a reality anytime soon, which gives Arsenal the opportunity to try and rebuild (albeit with financial obstacles). What is significant though, is that even if they do remain as Europa League rather than Champions League regulars, they need to continue winning matches and progressing through the tournament to ensure their UEFA ranking remains strong.

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  1. Exiled in Pt

    Jun 20, 2019, 18:20 #114190

    I have to say lads the best bit about living in Portugal, will apart from the weather, the food the beer and the wine..... I could go on! Is I don't have sky or bt, on occasions if they are the only way to watch an Arsenal game, I will suffer and even then I will only watch the game, I don't listen or watch any of the pre, after or middle bollocks now, and I don't pay any subscription like I did for years in the UK. I am lucky that I get to see every game live, thou most of the time I am not sure I should describe that as lucky.. So i suppose I should not slag off the fact it is on TV now but the old days were the best.. Don your right stop paying and we might see change but season tickets and memberships are already paid for. So the idea does not really work, will always be the tourists and touts to fill the gaps and I honestly don't believe the wank yank cares about empty seats that have already been paid for...

  2. itsRonagain2

    Jun 20, 2019, 17:01 #114189

    Agree with all of yr posts lads. I must man up and cancel SKY and BT sports again. I only set it up again for my step Son whos left home now to live with a lovely lass - Forest fan! While im on detest SKY mode, the guy who does sky news most mornings - Man City Mike - i wonder where he was when they were rubbish - The most smug, idiotic, social media manic hype artist there is. He stands for all SKY are i think and i could happily shove that tablet up his derriere and chop off his right hand that he waves at viewers to impress upon us his superior take on the rubbish he spouts off passing as news. His arrogance towards to the others who stand there with him is astonishing.

  3. TonyEvans

    Jun 20, 2019, 15:38 #114188

    Hi Don H and Exiled - enjoyed both your posts and completely agree with the sentiments. There is virtually nothing left to like about the modern game is there - unless you drop a league or two to experience something more akin to what we were used to back in the day. I don't want to do that though on a regular basis, and so still remotely follow Arsenal, trying and failing to find even some scrap left of the old club I used to worship!

  4. Don Howe

    Jun 20, 2019, 15:11 #114187

    A circus wallowing in it's own greed. What a wonderful turn of phrase. My question is, what makes Arsenal football enjoyable? For most of us it was (1) The magnificent red and white kit. (2) The crowd and the songs (3) The floodlights (4) Arsenal were better than most and very occasionally, once in a generation - the best.(5) Tradition of defensive structure (6) Affection for the players, especially if they were home grown or tried hard (7) the affordability of the simple pleasure of football. (8) The democracy of the English game - more or less you could not buy success. Almost every plank of that pleasure has been attacked. Kits screwed around with; The crowd priced out despite huge TV money; Wenger destroying our self respect and urinating the clubs resources up against the wall; Petrodollar domination. There is one ray of hope. As Frau Thatchler said, "you can't buck the market". It's like ITV and their 8 minute advert breaks - if you make it tedious enough, people are going to stop watching. The more the suits fatten their own slimy pockets and the more we see of the likes of Ozil and Pogba, the fewer people are going to switch on. The question is, how can we bring forward the financial collapse which will clean the augean stables and get up back to proper football. Answer - don't turn up. That's what did for Wenger. A Fan's strike. The Premier League gets money because we turn up to watch it and make a noise. Impossible to organise of course but it can happen spontaneously and it must.

  5. Exiled in Pt

    Jun 20, 2019, 14:48 #114186

    Hi Tony & Ron, it's a funny old game... Would settle for that and Brian Moore with the big match any day of the week as far as the TV went. If I was to be really cynical you have to blame the scousers, Heysel and then Hillsborough put an end to the game we loved if brutally honest. All seater stadiums and then Murdochs money supposed to of made it better for us the supporters. Now the average working class man has been as good as priced out of going. To be honest I would rather still be standing in the clock end at Highbury than sitting in that concrete bowl... With all the tourist day trippers.... Sorry got all nostalgic for a minute should not complain about progress.... Should we

  6. Colonel Blimp

    Jun 20, 2019, 12:43 #114185

    Does anyone remember when we biffed the Spuds in 3rd round back in 2014, Lineker and Jimmy Bullard both appeared in the studio looking like extras from Saturday Night Fever with unbuttoned shirts, slicked back hair, the midlife crisis in full effect, I half expected John Travolta to walk into shot. I think that smug little so and so gets some kind of pleasure from annoying people, when playing he always struck me as some kind of smart alec. We had the last laugh though; when Alan Smith came on for him vs Sweden in 1992. I never thought Graham Taylor had much love of Arsenal but he surprised me that day - or it could just have been he didn't have a clue what he was doing.

  7. TonyEvans

    Jun 20, 2019, 12:32 #114184

    Hi Ron and Exiled - reckon there must be loads of us out there who would gladly turn the clock back to pre Sky and all the other awful crap we have had foisted on us. Not enough though 'cos there are obviously still loads of fans lapping it all up, and still paying the money over. Now when's Saint and Greavsie on!

  8. itsRonagain2

    Jun 20, 2019, 9:54 #114183

    CG - he such an irritating little nobody mate, with his inane tweets on every subject known to man. His BT footie crew though Ugh. Him, Ferdie, Owen and that scank McManaman. Awful. They just lack, the spitter Carragher and they d have a full crew of odious buffoons.


    Jun 19, 2019, 19:20 #114182

    Ron, shame on you for criticising the Sainted Lineker - he may come over as a bad joke as both presenter & pundit but never underestimate a man prepared to appear on live TV in his underpants & with a £1.75 mill contract tucked into his boxers. No wonder the Beeb can't afford to give me my free licence anymore.

  10. itsRonagain2

    Jun 19, 2019, 15:13 #114181

    Hi Tony - note yr post below. That which you refer to was when football was actually a sporting competition and not a circus wallowing in its own greed.

  11. itsRonagain2

    Jun 19, 2019, 14:56 #114180

    Does anybody really care what they do? That Champions League (what a joke the name is!) is p--s poor. Its reached its bottom with Tottenham getting through, a club with no title for nigh on 6 decades and likely another 6 to follow. Lets hope they change it again and it falls flat on its arse, whether AFC are in it or not. Its dreadful and never generates real interest until the qtr s and semi s. if it was any good, BT wouldnt be doing it, with that slimy clown Lineker sitting there waving his f------g arms about like the demented cretin he is. Why doesnt the oaf get a shave?

  12. markymark

    Jun 19, 2019, 14:13 #114179

    Post Brexit there may even be a European punishment . This would be the third schism. 1st due to us not recognising the rise of European football . 2nd was Heysel . My understanding is Germany is very much opposed as despite the hegemony they still have highest average gates across their league and don’t want to kill it.

  13. Exiled in Pt

    Jun 19, 2019, 13:37 #114177

    what a rotten corrupt lot they are , agree with you Tony lets go back to the original format , shame it will never happen . Our club and its owner will suited to it all , just helps chisel away a bit more of my interest in football .

  14. TonyEvans

    Jun 19, 2019, 12:14 #114176

    Not read much about these CL proposals - seems like even more of a bore-fest than the current format is! Just one more step to a Europe wide super league by the sounds of it. How I wish we could turn the clock back to the old European Cup, Uefa Cup and Cup Winners Cup formats - exciting knockout competitions that actually meant something.

  15. Colonel Blimp

    Jun 19, 2019, 10:13 #114175

    Why not just go the whole hog and have one European "super league" of perhaps 24 teams, for arguments sake let's say initially 3 from Spain, 3 from England, 3 from Italy, 2 from Germany, 2 from France, 2 from Portugal, the rest from some of the so-called lesser leagues, with say, 8 relegation spots which can be filled by the winners of (certain) domestic leagues. 46 games over a season and they can still keep the European Cup but revert to its old straight knock out format. UEFA cup contested by the clubs from their domestic leagues. Why not?