Scudamore says closed-off Champs League idea ‘out of order’

Sports

Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum, right, celebrates scoring his side’s third goal of the game during the Champions League Semi Final, second leg soccer match between Liverpool and Barcelona at Anfield, Liverpool, England, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Turning the Champions League into a largely closed-off competition would be “completely out of order,” former Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore said Sunday, urging UEFA to scrap the concept.

Under a proposal seen by The Associated Press that was presented by UEFA to European leagues last week, 24 out of the 32 teams in the group stage would retain their Champions League places for the following season as promotion and relegation are introduced into three tiers of continent-wide competitions.

“The ECA’s proposals under the chairmanship of Mr. (Andrea) Agnelli from Juventus, from what I have seen so far, look completely out of order to me,” Scudamore told the BBC.

“If you go down Mr. Agnelli’s proposed route which is more European competition and less domestic competition it is bound to harm those domestic leagues,” Scudamore added. “Not just the Premier League but across the whole of Europe.”

Scudamore left his day-to-day Premier League role at the end of December but remains an adviser to the world’s richest domestic soccer competition.

Currently qualification for the Champions League is based on domestic league positions, with the top four from England, Germany, Italy and Spain all entering in the group stage.

But under the overhaul envisaged from the 2024-25 season, once places have been secured in the Champions League group stage only the eight sides relegated to the Europa League won’t return the following season — regardless of domestic finishes.

“I think it is a very, very delicate ecosystem that we have,” Scudamore said, “and you have to support domestic leagues and competitiveness within domestic leagues, and make sure sporting merit says … you can theoretically start a club… get promoted all the way through the leagues and get to the very top and when you finish in one, two, three or four, you should then go off to Europe.”

The radical vision for European competitions was presented to officials from domestic leagues on Wednesday at a meeting hosted by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.

“I think he needs to take a real, hard look at what this could do to domestic leagues which are effectively the bed-rock of football across the whole of Europe, across the whole world,” Scudamore said. “I hope that this is the start of a consultation, and not the end of it, and I trust Mr. Ceferin will do the right thing.”

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