Alexa

Platini forges ahead with changes to Champions League

Platini forges ahead with changes to Champions League

UEFA president Michel Platini has defended his plans to revamp the Champions League despite fierce opposition from Europe's biggest clubs.
The former France and Juventus midfielder wants UEFA's executive committee to reserve four places in the group phase of the competition for domestic cup winners from 2009-12. This has proved unpopular with Europe's top clubs _ Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger are among those against the proposed changes.
Platini said Thursday he has soccer's wider interests at heart.
"I only want winners," Platini said. "The winner of the FA Cup, or the French Cup, or in Italy, has more right to take part than the team in fourth place (in the league)."
Platini's new-look Champions League would give the top three league teams automatic entry into the competition. He was speaking after presenting his plans to the Professional Football Strategy Council _ made up of representatives from UEFA, clubs, leagues and players' unions.
The fourth-placed clubs in the top 16 ranking countries would need to win their domestic cup competition to qualify.
The 16 national cup winners would then compete in two knockout rounds for one of the four spots.
UEFA's Executive Committee was scheduled to vote on the proposals in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sept. 27th.
But Platini left room for debate, saying he could even change his mind if he gets "a better proposal in line with my philosophy."
A three-time European Player of the Year, Platini wants Europe's most prestigious club competition to give lesser-known teams _ rather than the richest _ a chance to compete.
"If we were (intent on) making money, then we take the six top English clubs, the six top German clubs, and we would have a lot more money," Platini said. "It's not a revolution, it's an evolution which corresponds to my philosophy."
Under current rules, the English, Spanish and Italian leagues have the top two clubs qualifying automatically for the Champions League, with teams in third and fourth place entering the qualifying rounds.
Platini also outlined several other changes he wants to see by 2009.
He called for 75 percent of the stadium seats to be reserved for fans _ which would reduce corporate bookings _ and for the Champions League final to be played at the weekend.
"After the (2007) final in Athens I would like to see the Champions League final played at a weekend," Platini said. "I was very disappointed there were no children in the stadium _ on a Wednesday night, families do not have the time."
The new-look UEFA Cup _ also for the 2009-12 period _ appears more popular with 48 teams planned for 12 groups.
The winners and runners-up would then enter a knockout round of 32 along with the teams finishing third in the Champions League group stage.
The UEFA Cup would start in September to coincide with the Champions League, and the Intertoto Cup would be scrapped.


Updated : 2020-12-05 23:49 GMT+08:00