Champions League could add ANOTHER group stage as European football chiefs ‘near agreement to add four more rounds of fixtures’ with top clubs quitting the Carabao Cup to make room for more matches
- UEFA and the European Clubs’ Association want to add Champions League ties
- They are close to an agreement to include four extra matchdays from 2024-25
- Group stage could be expanded or they may look to add a second one later on
- Plans are likely to cause problems due to England’s packed football schedule
- Champions League teams may be forced to give up playing in the Carabao Cup
Teams competing in the Champions League will have to play four extra matches from 2024 as European football chiefs close in on an agreement to revamp the tournament, according to The Times.
A new report claims that the European Clubs’ Association (ECA) and senior figures at UEFA want to expand the competition, which could cause chaos for England’s already-packed schedule.
Although it has not been confirmed how the four extra matchdays will be squeezed in, it is said that the group stage of the competition will either be changed or another one added before the knockout rounds begin.
Liverpool played 13 games on their way to winning the Champions League final last season
The ECA had originally hoped to add 10 extra fixtures to the Champions League in order to increase games played between European football’s biggest clubs.
But it is claimed that they are satisfied by the new proposal of four matches, even though it could cause a major problem for Premier League clubs.
The Times report that the Carabao Cup could become a competition exclusively for sides not competing in the top tier of European football as a result.
Raheem Sterling and Manchester City could be forced to quit the Carabao Cup from 2024-25
The controversial plan, which has been consistently opposed by the Premier League, would mean that the finalists of the competition play 17 matches rather 13.
However, the new format is likely to appeal to the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and the rest of the ‘Big Six’ as more Champions League fixtures will lead to increased revenues.
There is potential for UEFA to introduce eight groups of six teams rather than four, or six groups of six teams, in order to add the four extra games to the schedule.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is keen to add more fixtures to the Champions League
An alternative would be to add an extra group stage, potentially with the eight quarter-finalists being split into two groups of four, with the top two progressing to the semi-finals.
As part of the new plan, clubs who reach the last four of the competition would automatically qualify for the following season’s group stage regardless of their league position.
It is also claimed that UEFA want to prevent any move from Real Madrid and FIFA to set up a World Super League, with extra European fixtures likely to help appease them.