Plans have been revealed for a new Champions League format that will see the group stage increased to 36 teams from the current 32 and come into being in 2024.
The details have not been finalised but are expected to be completed in the coming weeks, according to European Clubs’ Association (ECA) chairman Andrea Agnelli.
Former Manchester United and Netherlands goalkeeper, and current Ajax chief executive Edwin van der Sar has been given the credit for the idea behind the changes.
The group stage of the tournament would look completely different under the new proposal, with teams playing 10 matches agaisnt sides of varying strengths and the results making up one league table.
There would be some two-legged play-offs which, along with the league standings, would determine progression to the knockout stages. It means extra matches for teams in the group stage, incresing from the current six.
‘The balance we are trying to strike is one-third international and two-thirds domestic,’ said Agnelli.
‘We do think for competitive balance purposes, 20-team leagues is too many.’
No decision has been made over where the additional four teams will come from, with the possibility of more places for the biggest leagues or the champions of smaller leagues getting a guarantee that they don’t currently have.
Agnelli, who is also the Jueventus chairman, believes there could be some more, eye-catching changes including the possibility that Champions League clubs could not make transfers between each other.
‘The moment is fertile to think of greater solutions,’ he said.
‘We should be looking at a wide range of reforms. ‘We could think of a double path transfer system, where clubs qualifying for specific tiers of international competition wouldn’t be allowed to buy each other’s players.
‘That would improve the indirect solidarity to other clubs and mean no triple-figure transfers amongst Champions League participating clubs. These are elements we are discussing.’