Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu wants Europe's biggest clubs to be given wildcard entry into the Champions League

 
Joe Hall
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Barcelona's boss has given his backing to Champions League wildcards (Source: Getty)

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has backed the idea of the Champions League offering wildcard entries to elite European clubs who fail to qualify for the competition.

Members of the European Club Association (ECA), the representative group of the continent's biggest clubs, tabled the idea of offering wildcards as a way of ensuring well-supported teams are always present at a meeting earlier this month.

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Executives at the biggest clubs in Italy, Germany and Spain are believed to be worried about the level of cash being injected into the Premier League through its TV deals, and want to ensure the maximum possible revenue from the Champions League.

Bartomeu, who is London for Barcelona's Champions League tie at Arsenal tonight, argued a wildcard system similar to the one used to invite big tennis stars to major tournaments could be used for the Champions League and would keep fans interested.

"Sometimes, for the interest of football, why not give wildcards?," Bartomeu told BBC Sport.

"Like in tennis, sometimes the top players are not qualified and are given wildcards. For the interest of football it could be that a wildcard is given to a club. That's not my decision of course, that is the decision of Uefa.

"Sometimes, you have a bad season and it is a very big punishment to not play in the Champions League that year. We need a stronger Champions League and more and more interest for the football fans and to make it more competitive.

"The Champions League is the biggest competition and most important one."

After the ECA gathered to discuss possible reforms to the Champions League last month chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge commented: "I believe both ECA and Uefa are interested in an evolution of the compeititions.

"Stagnation means regression. We have always jointly looked into ways to further develop and improve the competitions. It is important to find a good and balanced solution for everyone involved."

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