After controversial Champions League reform: UEFA’s plans for the European Cup are questionable

There must be more and more
The questionable reform of the UEFA Champions Cup

The details of the European Cup reform have been clarified. If the German clubs do well, another club will benefit from it for the following season. The increase in the number of matches remains questionable. Like many others.

European Cup fever in Berlin, Cologne and Freiburg is reportedly on the rise. If this highly controversial Champions League reform had already come into effect, and if FC Bayern and Borussia Dortmund had done better, yes, the fifth Bundesliga will also play in the premier class next season. This season, which ends over the weekend with decisions on European Cup seats, will remain the same for now: UEFA reform will come in 2024 – and with it the question of who should watch so much football.

The number of matches

“More participants and more matches do not necessarily lead to more enthusiasm and quality,” said Bernd Neuendorf, president of the German Football Association, after the UEFA executive decided on the final details of the partial revolution in Vienna on Tuesday. The 60-year-old wanted to say in a positive way, because the number of preliminary round matches per team in the premier class – it will therefore be 36 instead of the previous 32 – has been reduced from ten to eight initially foreseen. The game is no longer played in groups, but in the league. In the Champions League, that still means 64 more games.

Each team plays eight different opponents in four home and four away games. The first eight qualify directly for the round of 16, the others up to place 24 in the playoffs for access to the round of 16. A final tournament like FC Bayern’s triumph in the 2020 Corona summer is out of the question. Similar changes will also be introduced in the Europa League (eight games in the league stage) and Europa Conference League (six games).

“We worked hard to finalize things. There were some controversial points,” said UEFA competition director Giorgio Marchetti. In particular, supporters and the merger of European leagues have been clearly criticized recently.

The problem of coefficients

Originally, two of the four additional teams had to qualify after past European successes, a sort of safety net for big clubs after a bad seasonal performance, encouraged by the ECA club association. UEFA Exko has decided on a compromise: the two places do not go directly to the clubs, but to the two federations that did best in the European Cup (Champions League, Europa League and Conference League) last season. The second best club in the league would rise to the top, in Germany the fifth.

“I am pleased that a good solution has been found today. This includes the fact that a team’s sporting performance in the national championship in the previous season is still decisive for a starting place in international competition,” said Neuendorf. UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said: “Only sporting performance will continue to determine qualification and all clubs can continue to dream of participating.”

After the 2019/20 season, Germany would get one of two new places with Bayern triumph. In theory, seven German Champions League holders are also possible: if both the Champions League and the Europa League are won by German clubs, but they do not make it into the top five in the Bundesliga – and if Germany were one of the best in the previous season both nations were. England and Holland would benefit in the current season, Holland also for the final of Feyenoord Rotterdam in the Conference League.


“We listened and acted where necessary,” said Marchetti, stressing that the next topic with enormous litigation potential would only be negotiated later: the distribution of the money. UEFA will market the additional games for a lot of money. Fan groups fear that the gap between big and small clubs will continue to grow enormously. “We have to take a little breath and then we start this process,” said Marchetti.

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