Champions League plan benefits "rich and dominant" clubs, say leagues
ZURICH, May 16 (Reuters) - A proposal to create a near-closed Champions League would benefit only a small number of rich and dominant clubs, Europe's domestic leagues said on Thursday.
The region's governing body UEFA is working with the European Club Association (ECA), whose members include all of the continent's biggest clubs, to re-design European competition after the current international calendar ends in 2024.
Several league representatives who were present at a meeting with UEFA last week have said they were presented with a proposal to create a three-tier European league with promotion and relegation between each division.
The top tier — the equivalent of the Champions League — would include 32 teams, the top 24 of whom would keep their places for the next season, ending the tradition that qualifying for European competition is achieved via national leagues.
Only four places would be open to the winners of Europe's 54 national leagues.
UEFA has said discussions are at a preliminary stage and has not given any further details. It could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.
European Leagues, the umbrella group representing domestic leagues around the continent, said the proposal "benefits just a few rich and dominant clubs but damages the leagues and the great majority of clubs playing in the domestic competitions".
The group said it was working on changes to the proposal which "contribute to the long-term sporting and financial sustainability of both European and domestic club competitions".
It added: "UEFA must come to an agreement with the European Leagues and the other stakeholders to safeguard the interests of all professional football clubs in Europe." (Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)