As you might remember, a few months ago we suggested a new Champions League format that will make more commercial and sporting sense:Â A Champions League format UEFA must consider
However, after quite a lot of discussions, we would like to offer a new and improved format.
First of all â€“ let’s establish why UEFA needs to change its competitions format:
- Europeâ€™s major professional clubs continue to rack up staggering losses. Figures released by European footballâ€™s governing body revealed that clubs lost more than â‚¬1.6 billion in 2010.
- In the U.S, the National Football Leagueâ€™s income is more than â‚¬7 billion per year, while Major League Baseballâ€™s income is over â‚¬5 billion. This means that 62 professional sports teams in the United States make more money than 734 clubs from all across Europe, and thatâ€™s despite the fact that football is a lot more popular around the world than baseball or American football.
- One of the reasons American sports are more profitable than European football is that broadcasting rights for sports have become so expensive in the US, partly because ratings for just about everything else on TV have diminished. The proliferation of network channels has meant that each program attracts smaller and smaller audiences. Somehow, European football is still missing out on it.
- Sporting events draw big numbers, and advertisers pay a premium to reach those viewers â€” mostly men ages 18 to 34. In the USA, Sports has even proved to be resilient to the technological advances that hurt the rest of the TV industry. With more than one-third of American households equipped with digital video recorders, viewers are not watching nearly as much live TV (or commercials), but they are still tuning in to watch the big games.
- So how come European football has been left behind? Itâ€™s probably because there is something wrong with the financial model or sporting format of European competition.
Itâ€™s just not making enough money. UEFA should then try to change it.
- A better format to the Champions League will turn it into a TV asset that the biggest TV companies all over the world would like a piece of â€“ not to mention sponsors.
So here is the suggested format (Champions LeagueÂ integratedÂ with Europa League) :
- 60 clubs will be divided into 6 regional conferences, comprised of 10 teams each.
- No more than 7 teams from each country.
- The conferences are as follows: Northern, Western, Upper Central, Lower Central, Eastern and Mediterranean.
- The UEFA ranking system will be used to determine the 30 clubs that automatically qualify to the Super League. The other clubs will go through qualifying rounds.
-Â The qualifying rounds will be regional â€“ each conference will be divided to 2 divisions. 2 teams will qualify from each division, with 6 more qualifying through and additional “wild card” qualifying stage. (See bottom of this post for the divisions)
-Â Each team will play 9 games against the other teams in their groups, and 7 additional games against teams from other conferences (with a similar UEFA ranking). 16 â€śregular seasonâ€ť games overall.
- There wonâ€™t be two games played against the same opponent – Just one, home or away. The following season, if the same teams play each other again, the home side will alternate.
- The â€śregular seasonâ€ť will be regional and shall be played on a league format of 3 points per win, 1 point per draw and 0 points per defeat.
- 2 clubs from each conference will qualify to the next round, with another 4 qualifying via a “wild card” playoff played by the 3rd seeded clubs and the best 2 clubs in 4th place.
- The playoffs will be played in a single-match format â€“ either win or go home.
Main advantages of this format
- Each team will have a minimum of 8 home games, unlike today (3).
- Each game will be a lot more interesting because of sporting and regional importance. The games will also have an impact on next yearâ€™s rankings.
- The big teams will meet each other on a regular basis, unlike today. For example, this season Real Madrid did not meet a rival from Germany, Spain or England up until the semi-finals.
- A single Knock-Out match will be interesting for neutral observers, thus boosting ratings and ad revenue.
- Revenues from media rights and sponsorships of such a league will be shared between all participating clubs. Some portion of the match-day revenue will also be shared between the 60 clubs.
- Each club will have to register 25 players for the competition. The sum of these players’ contracts wonâ€™t pass a certain mark (i.e. 250M Euros per year). This means that clubs will have to calculate very carefully which players will feature in the European tournament.
- The league will set up a pool of solidarity payments to football associationsâ€™ grass-roots programs, which will be about 10% â€“ 15% of all league revenue.
Here is an example of what the conferences would look like:
Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Rangers, Celtic, Hamburg, Werder Bremen, FC Copenhagen, Rosenborg, AIK Stockholm
Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Anderlecht, Club Brugge, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Lille, Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon
Upper Central conference
Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04, Montpellier, Marseille, Red Bull Salzburg, Legia Warsaw, Sparta Prague, MĹ K Ĺ˝ilina,Â Debreceni VSC
Lower Central conference
AC Milan, Inter, Juventus, FC Basel, Real Madrid, AtlĂ©tico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Porto, Benfica, Sporting Lisbon
Shakhtar Donetsk, Dynamo Kiev, CSKA Moscow, Rubin Kazan, Zenit St. Petersburg, , Levski Sophia, CFR Cluj, NK Maribor, Partizan Belgrade, FC BATE Borisov
Barcelona, Valencia,Â Roma, Napoli, APOEL Nicosia, Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, BeĹźiktaĹź
Here’s an example for a team’s schedule:
Barcelona will play games against their conference rivals:
Valencia (H), Roma (A), Napoli (H), APOEL Nicosia (A), Olympiacos (H), Panathinaikos (A); Fenerbahce (H), Galatasaray (A), BeĹźiktaĹź (H).
They will also play 7 non-conference games against same-level clubs with a similar UEFA club coefficient:Â
Real Madrid (A), Chelsea (H), Manchester United (A), FC Bayern (H), Arsenal (A), FC Inter (H), FC Porto (A).
Here are the divisions for the qualifying rounds:
Regions affiliated to the Northern conference
Atlantic division: Teams from Northern England, Northern Germany, Scotland, Wales, Ireland.
Scandinavian division: Teams from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland.
Regions affiliated to the Western conference
Benelux division: Teams from Holland and Belgium.
La Manche Division: Teams from Southern England, Northern/Central France.
Regions affiliated to the Upper Central conference
The Rhine division: Teams from Southern Germany, Southern France.
The Danube Division: Teams from Austria, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic.
Regions affiliated to the Lower Central conference
The Iberian division: Teams from Spain and Portugal.
The Alpine division: Teams from Italy and Switzerland.
Regions affiliated to the Eastern conference
Eurasian division: teams from Ukraine, Russia and Romania and the Baltics.
Balkan Division: Teams from the Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Bulgaria.
Regions affiliated to the Mediterranean conference
West Mediterranean division: Teams from Southern Eastern Spain, Southern Italy.
East Mediterranean division: Teams from Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and Israel.