Supporters groups of 14 clubs across Europe have called on the European Club Association to scrap “reckless” plans over the future of the Champions League.
Supporters from clubs including Arsenal, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund have called the plans to increase the number of matches from 125 to 225 with the addition of four new teams “a blatant power grab”.
The changes are due to come into effect from 2024, and will allocate two places in the competition based on past performances in Europe, meaning clubs who fail to qualify for the continent’s top competition would still be in with a chance of taking a place.
Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli is also the chairman of the ECA, and has backed the changes ahead of a meeting to vote on the proposal, which if passed will then be ratified by UEFA on Monday in their executive committee meeting.
“Your plans to restructure the Champions League by increasing the number of games, introducing qualification based on past achievements and monopolising commercial rights present a serious threat to the entire game,” the Football Supporters Europe (FSE) wrote in an open letter (via ESPN).
“Instead of realising your supposed goal of ‘building a successful, sustainable and social responsible football industry,’ you will only make the gap between the rich and the rest bigger, wreck domestic calendars, and expect fans to sacrifice yet more time and money.
“Such a blatant power grab would be indefensible at the best of times, but at the height of a global pandemic, it is nothing more than crisis profiteering — not to mention a stark contrast to the solidarity displayed by fans.
“Over the past year, we have supported our clubs unconditionally, buying season tickets with no hope of attending games, and paying for TV subscriptions to watch repetitive ties held in empty, soulless stadiums, all while you were working behind the scenes to find new ways to bleed us dry.
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“But we do not have the time or money to invest in your fantasies or fund your insatiable greed. And in the end, we are your business model.
“Even most ECA members stand to lose out from the proposed reforms. We are the fans of today and we do not want more European games. We want strong, competitive domestic leagues, an equal opportunity to qualify for Europe based on sporting merit and fairer sharing of the game’s wealth.
“We therefore demand that you drop your reckless plans. We also call on football’s governing bodies to stop making concessions to elite clubs and intervene to protect the future of the game.”