UEFA’s plans to supersize the Champions League will have a devastating effect on English football, according to Crystal Palace chairman, Steve Parish and EFL chairman, Rick Parry.
The proposal is to increase the number of clubs in the competition from 32 to 36 and change the format, which will see the number of games rise by 100,
Plans to dramatically expand the Champions League would have a ‘devastating’ effect on English football, it is claimed
The changes, if approved by UEFA, are likely to kill off the Carabao Cup and threaten the existence of EFL clubs, said Parish and Parry, as well as destroy the competitive balance in top tiers across Europe.
They were speaking at a meeting organised by the European Leagues, which represents the Premier League, among 35 competitions across the continent.
More than 300 clubs, as well as representatives from UEFA, FIFA and the EFL, attended the online event, which was withering in its criticism of the plans.
Of particular concern – in addition to the increasing number of matches – was the proposal to include protected access to the competttion for the biggest clubs based on past European performance.
Most contributors – and the European Leagues representative body – expressed grave concern at the consequences of the proposals put forward by UEFA with many speaking out against the 20 most powerful clubs in Europe, whose wealth will be swelled by the plans.
The new format would see four additional midweeks exclusively reserved for European football, making it hard for the Carabao Cup to continue after 2024.
Crystal Palace chairman, Steve Parish, led objections to the plans at a European meeting
Palace chairman Parish said the moves would eventually usher in a European Super League by the back door.
‘We seem to be expected to accept these proposals because they are not as bad as they could have been,’ he said.
‘I can’t quite buy into that thinking. that we should be ever so grateful it is only 100 extra games.
‘This will have a quite devastating effect on domestic competition in England.
Lars-Christer Olsson, president of the European Leagues, is leading the campaign to change the proposals for the competition, but UEFA is expected to make a decision in a month
‘The league cup is the largest financial contributor to the EFL and this proposal will probably see the end of that in its entirety or reduce it to some sort of youth competition.
‘Where does this all end? The creep is never ending. We are talking about a transfer of value from domestic leagues to European competition. It is very concerning.
‘Domestic competition in the end [will take] a secondary seat to a European Super League.’
The chairman of the EFL, Rick Parry, agreed that clubs in the Football League will be threatened with extiction if the Champions League plans go ahead in their current form.
EFL chairman Rick Parry told the European Leagues meeting that the proposals were ‘not fair’
‘The calendar clearly poses a major threat to the future of the league cup,’ he said. ‘This will have a massive impact on EFL revenues. EFL TV contracts and sponsorship are crucially dependent on the participation of major clubs.
‘We estimate we could lose up to a third of the revenues we distribute to our clubs. That will pose a very real threat to the existence of some of these clubs. These changes are having a major impact not just on the League Cup but in turn on the EFL itself.’
However, Parry said it was not only the loss of the cup competition, but the knock on effect of UEFA insisting four midweeks must be devoted to European competition.
Clubs with recent history of European success could have a protected route into competition
‘By extending exclusivity UEFA is abusing a dominant position,’ he added. ‘Saying you cannot play when we want to play is not fair, or acceptable. It will have a massive impact on the revenues of our competitions.’
Speaker after speaker suggested the plans to allocate the four extra spots for the revamped Champions League using UEFA rankings is inherently unfair.
Under the propsals, two new spots would go to clubs finishing in Europa League or Europa Conference places, with the highest UEFA ranking. This would act as a safety net for big clubs that have a poor season.
For example, if these rules were in place last season, Arsenal and Tottenham, who qualified for the Europa League, would have leapfrogged Leicester City in fifth into a Champions League place.
Peter Withe and Nigel Spink celebrate Aston Villa’s historic European Cup win in 1982
Villa chief executive said the proposals on the table would make it harder to ‘live the dream’
Aston Villa chief executive, Christian Purslow, pointed out that was not only unfair but, he said, it could benefit the bigger clubs by around £43 million, which is the difference in revenue they could earn from the Champions League compared to the Europa League, handing even more advanatge to the Big Six.
‘I am delighted to see the European Leagues have already formed the view on access that the coefficient system tabled by UEFA and ECA… has been rejected.
‘It does affect domestic competition if we boost teams into the Champions League from the Europa League.
‘It is effectively an average annual revenue difference of 50m euros (£43m)for a team boosted from the Europa League to the Champions League.
‘Most people would see that as unfair and just not feeling right.’