Europe’s premier club competition could be set for a major facelift as the UEFA Champions League looks set to refit the latter stages of the competition in favour of a “week of football.”
As reported by the Times as well as the Mirror and other outlets, UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin is in favour of a format change that would see the two-legged semi-final stripped and replaced with a week of football surrounding one-off semi-final matches in the run-up to the final.
Momentum is building for two-legged Champions League semi-finals to be scrapped, with leading European clubs backing a plan to play the semis and the final over a single week in one city https://t.co/oiAPIFRbab
— Times Sport (@TimesSport) April 27, 2022
This format would be similar to what is seen in the UEFA Nations League while also being hosted at a neutral venue, with Ceferin likening it to the Super Bowl in the United States.
“If you look at the Super Bowl it’s a great event and they do it in a great way, they have concerts and people go there and have fun. Even if you lose those two matches you can get more revenue to compensate.”
“It could be a fantastic event for broadcasters, for sponsors. In the same week, you could have the final of the women’s Champions League or youth competitions, you could really have a fantastic week of football. These knockout matches are different and more exciting.”
That change of format has also been backed by ECA chairman and Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who stated: “The Super Bowl, and the U.S. generally, have this mindset, creativity, and entertainment.”
“That’s what I have suggested, to have an opening ceremony to the Champions League, to have one match on the opening night where the winners take on a big team — maybe it is not a good idea, but at least let’s challenge the status quo. Each match needs to be an event and entertainment.” (note: quotes via the Athletic)
But football purists surely will put up stiff opposition for the change that looks set to be put into action come the 2024-25 season, with the unparalleled drama of European nights both home and away to be shown the door in favour of better commercial opportunities for the big fish while stripping fans of the ability to enjoy Champions League on their home patch, or having a memorable away night with fellow supporters.
Should plans be finalized, it appears to be another example of football going the way of finance rather than passion.