Champions League: Uefa considers changes which could lock out smaller clubs

 
Joe Hall
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A picture taken 21 December 2007 shows t
The Champions League could be slimmed down for the benefit of big teams (Source: Getty)

Uefa is considering proposals to change the format of the Champions League which would reduce the number of teams in the group stage from 32 to just 16.

Continental clubs are believed to be driving a move toward introducing two mini "super-leagues" of eight to replace the existing eight groups of four as a response to the growing financial clout of the Premier League.

But the proposed structure would likely come at the cost of smaller European teams who would be afforded fewer places in the competition.

Read more: Could a European super league actually happen? Three experts discuss the likelihood

Any changes would be unlikely to be implemented before its current TV rights contracts end after 2017/18 season.

According to the Guardian, a 2008 group stage tie between Real Madrid and Belarusian team Bate Borisov was cited in top-level discussions between European clubs as the kind of games unattractive to TV viewers.

The European Club Association (ECA), which represents the continent's biggest sides, is believed to have held talks recently about potentially introducing wild card entries for the biggest sides who did not qualify for the competition on any given year.

Continental clubs are believed to be concerned by the Premier Leagues' new £8bn TV deal which will guarantee even its bottom club more in broadcasting income than teams such as Bayern Munich.

But the biggest Premier League sides have sparked speculation of plans for a revamped Champions League or even breakaway European super league themselves.

Executives from Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool met with American sports executive Charlie Stillitano, chairman of Relevent Sports which organises the pre-season International Champions Cup tournament.

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