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Champions League revamp would ‘harm’ domestic leagues – Scudamore

Outgoing Premier League boss Richard Scudamore has described proposals by UEFA to overhaul the Champions League as “completely out of order.”

European football’s governing body, under president Alexander Ceferin, is consulting with the continent’s leading clubs and leagues on the future of its club competitions after the current arrangements expire in 2024.

The only plan to have emerged so far would see the Champions League switch from eight groups of four to four groups of eight – guaranteeing more games – and have a promotion and relegation system which would retain 24 of the 32 teams from one season to another.

This idea, which has provoked anger from league chiefs, is the brainchild of European Club Association (ECA) chairman Andrea Agnelli, who is also president of Italian club Juventus.

“I am looking slightly from the outside in now but I think you’ve got a situation where every tournament organiser is entitled to look at their own competition and see how best they can reorganise or restructure,” Scudamore told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme.

“I actually think the ECA’s proposals, under the chairmanship of Mr Agnelli, from what I have seen so far, look completely out of order to me.

“I would hope, and I know Mr Ceferin very well at UEFA and he’s a very sensible man and a very good man, that he will consult. He has promised to consult, and he has promised to talk to everybody.

“I think he needs to take a real, hard look at what this could do to domestic leagues which are effectively the bed-rock of football across the whole of Europe, across the whole world. I hope that this is the start of a consultation, and not the end of it, and I trust Mr Ceferin will do the right thing.”

Scudamore claims that what is required “is a very, very strong competitive balance within your own domestic league”.

He added: “You want the most competitive league you can and I’m afraid that is where league organisers are always at odds with individual clubs.

“It is unavoidable, individual clubs want to win everything, win all the time, want to dominate. They want all the advantages, they want the financial advantages, the sporting advantages.

“If you go down Mr Agnelli’s proposed route, which is more European competition and less domestic competition, it is bound to harm those domestic leagues. Not just the Premier League but across the whole of Europe.”

Scudamore is adamant domestic leagues have to be protected, and that any European League is supportive, rather than dominant.

“I think it is a very very delicate ecosystem that we have,” said Scudamore.

“You have to support domestic leagues and competitiveness within domestic leagues, and make sure sporting merit says if you get promoted you can theoretically start a club behind the Dog and Duck (pub), get promoted all the way through the leagues and get to the very top, and when you finish one, two, three or four, you should then go off to Europe.

“Leagues are the cake, European competition is the icing on the cake. We should never turn it to be the other way around.”