by Tony Attwood
The problem is, we are told there is going to be a third European competition next year but we don’t really know too much about how it will work, but it looks a bit like this could be the way forward…
Part 1: Leave the Champions League as it is.
Part 2: One way or another reduce the Europa League to the same size as the Champions League.
Part 3: Add a third competition including some of those who would have been in the Europa
Now from what I can gather and the tiny hints whispered, this is how it goes.
At present there are 32 clubs in the Group Stage of the Champions League, of which 16 go through. With the Europa League there are 48 in the Group Stage of which 24 go through plus eight from the Champions to make 32.
Reducing the Europa League to the same size as the Champions League will presumably mean not having the Europa League accept any of the Champions League third placed teams. So 32 clubs in the Group Stage, of which 16 go through in both cases.
Thus the new competition could pick up a mix of clubs knocked out of the Champions League and the Europa League, in the group stages, plus perhaps having a group stage of its own. Or maybe it could just be that there are no transfers to another competition for the third placed teams in the group stage at all.
I have seen it indicated that abolishing the movement of teams from one competition to another has a fair number of people backing that idea to protect the “integrity” of each competition. Also having teams from a bigger competition just jump down a level and knock out the teams that have fought their way through is a bit of a slap in the face. Mind you, when has Uefa ever been against a slap in the face?
Against this is the fact that Uefa certainly doesn’t want the third tier competition to be made up of very small clubs playing in front of tiny crowds. They want to sell the TV rights.
But the twist is, if, as promised, the Europa shrinks next season, going down to the same size as the Champions League it has no chance of picking up the third placed teams from the Champs.
So maybe the third placed teams from the Champs do go into the new 3rd tier league after all to ensure there are enough big teams to keep the attendance figures up.
Certainly the reduction in the size of the Europa so that it plays on the Thursday after the Champions League games means there is no room for extra clubs at the knock out stage, if one wants to get rid of that extra knock out round. Which leads us to the next question: what day of the week?
We all know that at the moment it is Tuesday/Wednesday for Champions League and Thursday for the Europa. But when does the new competition fit in? The most obvious answer is to have the Champions League on one day – say the Wednesday – with the Europa on the Tuesday and the New Cup on the Thursday. That could help. But it could reduce sponsorship and TV advertising revenue. So maybe they have another cunning plan.
But there we are. Just as the Untold team are trying to sort out how the under 21 game at Coventry works in the broader scheme of things, Uefa comes along with another competition.
And one last thing – who from the Premier League would get in? This season we have the top four in the Champions League, the next three in the Europa League – and then what – perhaps the next three in the New Competition?
Here is last season’s league table, showing the competitions as it would apply…
Everton, Leicester and Newcastle would have struck lucky, although looking at their league results from last season, all three clubs lost more games than they won, and conceded more goals than they scored. So it is not exactly a reward for success.
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