The Reds boss is angry that managers and players were not consulted by UEFA, which plans to expand Europe’s top club competitions from 2024
Jurgen Klopp says it is “great’ that the controversial breakaway European Super League collapsed this week – but has hit out at the planned revamp of the existing Champions League competition.
The Liverpool boss, speaking at a press conference ahead of his side’s Premier League clash with Newcastle this weekend, spoke at length about his concerns over the proposed 36-team Champions League tournament, which was ratified by UEFA this week and will come into effect from 2024.
Klopp’s concerns centre around the increase in competitive matches, with clubs competing in the new-look European competition now guaranteed to play 10 group-stage matches instead of six.
What’s been said?
Klopp told reporters on Friday: “The most positive thing [about the ESL] is that it didn’t happen! But it’s not over yet, and I don’t mean the Super League.
“Everybody knows my view on more games. You cannot just introduce more games and more competitions. Yes the Super League is off the table. Good. Very good. Great. But the new Champions League is not ‘oh great, let’s do that!’
“They showed it to me, they called me and I had one hour with UEFA to see the whole idea, and I said ‘I don’t like it’. There are 10 games instead of six, and I have no idea where we shall put them in.
“We will see what happens. Maybe UEFA will ask for the cup competitions in England to be cancelled, or that we have 18 teams only in the league, stuff like this. Tell that to the Premier League and the EFL and they say ‘no way’.
“The only people who never get asked are the coaches, the players and the supporters. I know the supporters think we get paid a lot of money, but we are already on the edge, and all the coaches think the same, believe me. If we all think the same then there could be something in it, that it’s a little bit too much!
“UEFA didn’t ask us, the Super League inventors didn’t ask us, nobody asks us. It’s just ‘play more games’ and as we said before, that’s not possible in this structure. You cannot have 20 teams in the league, two cup competitions, 10 European games before Christmas. We don’t get asked, we just have to deliver.”
‘It’s a joke!’
Klopp is not the first person to speak out against the new Champions League proposals, with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan stating their opposition too.
The Reds boss, though, is concerned that with so much focus on the controversial Super League plans, bigger issues in football will continue to be overlooked.
He said: “They all learned their lesson. They will not come around the corner next week and try to do something. I’m pretty sure of that.
“But I’m not naive. I know things will be discussed. I have no problem with change. We all wanted to have the new Super League to go away, but at the same moment we have the new Champions League. Who read this concept and said ‘oh, that’s perfect!’? Who tells me now that it’s not about money? It’s a joke!
“I said it before with the Nations League, or when FIFA wanted to have a Club World Cup. They don’t ask, they just introduce it. Why? Money.”
He added: “It’s great that it [Super League] didn’t happen, absolutely great. It would have been really bad. The situation shows it; it will not happen again. That was a proper try and they couldn’t get it through. Believe me, for a long, long, long time, something like this will not happen – but other things will!
“We speak to players and managers all the time, and if we mention things, the argument is always that ‘yeah but you get well paid’, ‘rotate your squad’, these kind of things. The football structure in this moment is not prepared for more games, and I don’t know why some others on a really high level think we should deal with more competitive games.
“Where is the drop off? We have to make sure that the quality of football gets higher. Not by buying, but by training. And not even the best footballers can be as good as they can be without training. That’s just not possible. But we cut off training time constantly.
“I spoke about it but nobody really listened, they said I was moaning. Now something happened and everybody was on the same page; that should not happen. It didn’t happen, but everything else is still happening, which is much worse. More games, more games.
“Five subs, when we spoke in this country, everybody said it was better for the big clubs. No, it’s not! It’s better for the players! Nobody listened.
“These are my concerns, not the things that didn’t happen. The things that happened that we still had to deal with.”