‘We would like to protect Ajax and Leicester’: UEFA could guarantee a place in Champions League to teams who reach closing stages year before
- UEFA are meeting to discuss proposals for the future of the Champions League
- Ajax reached semi-final of competition but are not guaranteed a place this year
- Aleksander Ceferin revealed guaranteeing place to semi-finalists is on table
UEFA are considering ‘protecting’ teams who reach the closing stages of the Champions League by guaranteeing them a spot in the following season’s competition.
Ajax reached the semi-final of last season’s competition but have had to sell a series of their best players as they are not definitely going to be in next season’s tournament.
And UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin has revealed that new proposals are on the table to avoid a repeat of that situation.
Ajax reached semi-final of Champions League but are not guaranteed a place this season
Aleksander Ceferin has admitted that proposals are on the table to guarantee places
Ceferin told the Times: ‘We would like to protect teams like Ajax this year, or Monaco and Leicester City [who reached the quarter-finals] before.
‘Ajax played the semi-finals this year and now they will have to sell all their players because they don’t know if they will qualify for the Champions League next year.
‘I don’t think we should protect too many clubs, because then it’s too closed, but I think we have to protect some clubs.
‘One idea is that those clubs who succeed at a certain stage of the competition can compete the following year too.
Currently, sides from Europe’s top four leagues get four automatic spots into the group stages
‘But it is a discussion only. We have a meeting on September 11 to debate it with leagues and clubs.’
There are also discussions over a format that includes four groups of eight teams rather than eight of four, and expanding the competition to 40 or 48 clubs.
UEFA are also in advanced talks over a ‘Champions of Champions’ match between the winners of the Euros and the Copa America.
Currently, the Champions League format precludes certain nations from automatic qualification for some clubs – such as Ajax in Holland – based on their domestic league coefficient.
The coefficient is based on performances by clubs within a UEFA member association in European competition over the past five seasons.
The associations with the top 10 coefficients see their champions automatically qualify. Unfortunately for Ajax, ahead of the 2018-19 season, Holland’s ranking was 14th.
Ajax will have to negotiate the qualifying rounds because of Holland’s poor league coefficient
Of the 32 teams in the group stages, 26 teams automatically qualify for the Champions League group stage through their league position or by winning the Champions League or Europa League.
QUALIFIERS FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGES
UEFA Champions League title holder: Liverpool
UEFA Europa League title holder: Chelsea
Ten champions from associations 1–10: Manchester City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG, Juventus, Benfica, Zenit, Galatasaray, Shakhtar, Genk
Six runners-up from associations 1–6: Liverpool, Atletico, Borussia Dortmund, Lille, Napoli, Lokomotiv Moscow
Eight third-placed/fourth placed teams from associations 1–4: Chelsea, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Valencia, Leipzig, Leverkusen, Inter, Atalanta
Four winners from the play-off round (Champions Path): TBD
Two winners from the play-off round (League Path): TBD
Only six then qualify through play-offs, which start with the preliminary rounds in late June.
Currently, the top four leagues in Europe (La Liga, the Premier League, Serie A and the Bundesliga), all get four automatic spots in the group stages.
Fifth and sixth (France and Russia) get three qualifying spots but only two are for the group stages, while 7th to 15th all get two, progressively dropping through the qualifying grounds.
Only the domestic champions from associations ranked first to tenth go directly into the group stages, along with the winners of the Champions League and Europa League.
For Ajax, they will enter this coming season’s tournament in the third qualifying round. If they make it through that round, they must also negotiate a playoff.
The qualification path for sides who do not automatically reach the group stages is complex. The pathway is divided into two – a league path and a champions path.
Again, depending on the league’s coefficient, sides enter either the preliminary round, the first round, second round, third round or the playoff.
|RANKING||NATIONS||LEAGUE POSITION (CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ENTRY)|
|1||SPAIN||Top four (group stages)|
|2||ENGLAND||Top four (group stages)|
|3||GERMANY||Top four (group stages)|
|4||ITALY||Top four (group stages)|
|5||FRANCE||Top two (group stages); 3rd (3rd qualifying round)|
|6||RUSSIA||Top two (group stages); 3rd (3rd qualifying round)|
|7||PORTUGAL||Champion (group stages); 2nd (3rd qualifying round)|
|8||UKRAINE||Champion (group stages); 2nd (3rd qualifying round)|
|9||BELGIUM||Champion (group stages); 2nd (3rd qualifying round)|
|10||TURKEY||Champion (group stages); 2nd (2nd qualifying round)|
|11||AUSTRIA||Champion (Playoff); 2nd (2nd qualifying round)|
|12||SWITZERLAND||Champion (Playoff); 2nd (2nd qualifying round)|
|13||CZECH REP.||Champion (3rd qualifying round); 2nd (2nd qualifying round)|
|14||HOLLAND||Champion (3rd qualifying round); 2nd (2nd qualifying round)|
|15||GREECE||Top two (2nd qualifying round)|