Juventus President Andrea Agnelli is backing a proposal to shake up the Champions League that would create more games while maintaining an open qualifying system, rather than having a breakaway Super League largely closed off to the biggest clubs.
As chairman of the European Club Association, Agnelli had previously advocated a reformatting of the Champions League that would give guaranteed places for 24 teams. But that divisive vision was widely rejected and now he is embracing a variation of the so-called “Swiss system."
It’s one of several options for a revamped Champions League being discussed. Last week, documents were leaked to the media showing that some top European clubs are pushing for a Super League that would be largely closed to the same teams each year.
Agnelli's backing is for a format that would place all 32 teams into a single league table rather than the current eight groups. Each team would then play eight to 14 games, with opponents determined based on ranking positions. The format would also allow for the competition to be expanded to 36 teams.
“The so-called Swiss system is a very interesting system and the credit for this idea has to be given to one of our members of the ECA, Ajax, for pointing this out a couple of years ago as a potential system,” Agnelli said during a News Tank Football virtual event on Wednesday. “What I can tell you with certainty is from the ECA’s perspective given what has happened in 2019 I will want any and all reforms to go through the general assembly of the ECA with all clubs voting for whatever our collective future will be.”
The desire for a collective agreement is in contrast to some of Europe's biggest clubs leading the way in pushing for a Super League.
That plan would be for a 20-team annual competition that would include 15 top clubs as permanent members. The five other teams would vary each season, although the qualification method has not been determined.
That competition would begin with two groups of 10 teams, with the top four from each group advancing to the quarterfinals. That would guarantee every team between 18 and 23 annual Super League matches, compared to a minimum of six games in the Champions League group stage.
The current Champions League requires all 32 teams to qualify based on their domestic league positions, although the defending champion and Europa League winner are guaranteed access. Agnelli didn't specify how qualification for a Swiss-system league may differ, but made it clear he wants it to be based on recent results rather than history.
“Competitions at European level should be open to all so that we as managers of the industry we must keep the dream alive,” Agenlli said. “Everything must be based on sporting matters, on sporting merit, but we should remember where the fans of the future are going so it is our view that more European matches are welcome."
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