Nyon - UEFA has drafted a controversial plan to introduce promotion and
relegation to the Champions League at a meeting at its Swiss
headquarters in Nyon, sources told AFP on Wednesday.
There would be four groups of eight teams from 2024 if the proposal
is put into action and it would significantly increase the number of
European matches and favour bigger clubs.
But UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin played down the plan, saying:
"What is important to remember, is that, despite a lot of talk in the
media, no decisions have been made. At the moment we have only ideas and
The revamped tournament would not see games played at weekends, which would have sparked uproar among the domestic leagues.
The top five teams in each group would be automatically qualified for
the next edition, effectively making the Champions League far harder
for clubs from smaller countries to play in.
There would be 14 matchdays in the group stage instead of six, with teams continuing to play opponents home and away.
That would necessitate drastic changes to domestic schedules, with
league and cup matches currently also being played in midweek.
Change to European club tournaments has become a controversial issue
after Andrea Agnelli, the president of the European Club Association
(ECA), outlined proposals for a "pan-European league system" that would
greatly reduce the number of teams qualifying from domestic
The UEFA drafts suggest a move in that direction, although the number of clubs in the Champions League would remain at 32.
In recent seasons, the group stage has featured eight pools of four teams.
"The process starts. We'll see how the discussions and negotiations
evolve," the European Leagues association said in a statement to AFP.
The ECA demanded on Tuesday that UEFA "properly include" it in any plans to change Europe's elite competition.
"When the Champions League was last changed in 2016, UEFA was
criticised for not holding discussions with its stakeholders," added
"When I became president shortly afterwards, I insisted that any
future changes should be subject to consultation and today's meeting is
further evidence of that."
European football's governing body has already been criticised for
changing the qualifying criteria for the Champions League, with the top
four sides from each of the continent's big four leagues -- England,
Spain, Italy and Germany -- automatically qualifying for this season's
Ajax play Tottenham later on Wednesday for a place in the Champions
League final against Liverpool on June 1 in Madrid, after Jurgen Klopp's
side's remarkable comeback against Barcelona.
Ajax were one of the teams hit hardest by the most recent Champions
League changes. They had to come through three qualifying rounds just to
make the group stage earlier this campaign.