Premier League given assurances over Champions League places

The Premier League has received assurances that there are no current proposals to cut the number of Champions League group stage places for English clubs.

The PA news agency understands the league was surprised and disappointed by the suggestion last week from European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson that England, Germany, Italy and Spain might have to accept a drop from four automatic places to three in a revamped competition from 2024.

The league has since held talks with European Leagues, a group which represents 36 professional leagues across 29 countries, and been reassured that there are no fixed proposals at this stage, with the principles behind a new-look competition still being worked on.

European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson had suggested the 'big four' leagues may have to face a cut in the number of automatic Champions League group stage places they receive
European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson had suggested the ‘big four’ leagues may have to face a cut in the number of automatic Champions League group stage places they receive (Jamie Gardner/PA)

The relationship between the Premier League and European Leagues is understood to remain very strong, and the English league will host the continental body’s club advisory platform and general assembly in London over Thursday and Friday.

Delegates from nearly 200 European clubs will attend the event, as will speakers from the world players’ union FIFPro and various supporters’ groups.

Olsson said last week that clubs from England, Germany, Italy and Spain may have to consider a cut to improve access to the competition for teams from other countries.

Discussions are ongoing about how Europe’s top club competition might look from 2024-25 onwards.

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli, chairman of the European Club Association (ECA), has proposed a model featuring more group-stage matches, promotion and relegation between the Champions League and Europa League and a large increase in the number of clubs qualifying for Europe via continental competition, rather than performance in their home league.

He said last week the model would reduce risk and provide greater stability for big clubs in smaller leagues, such as Celtic and Ajax, by helping them avoid elimination at the play-off stage.

European Leagues is opposed to the ECA plan, with Olsson calling it a “closed league” which would “kill” interest in domestic competition. Olsson also said the current 13 games from the start of the group phase to the final was “the limit”, citing player welfare as a key concern.

UEFA announced in August 2016 that four clubs each from England, Germany, Italy and Spain would be given automatic places in the group phase from the 2018-19 season onwards.

LaLiga is understood to be open to the idea of fewer automatic places, but it is unlikely it would agree to it unilaterally.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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