UEFA are pressing ahead with plans to introduce more official games to clubs’ congested schedules, with a four-team pre-season tournament set to be tested in the near future
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UEFA are reportedly exploring the possibility of starting the season with a Champions League four-team mini-tournament after scrapping plans for a ‘final four’ competition.
A report from the Associated Press, based on information from an unnamed source who is involved in discussions and spoke on the condition of anonymity, claimed that UEFA are considering the idea of a mini-tournament that would kick off the new campaign in Europe’s top five leagues.
It is understood the plans would involve finding a pre-season competition that takes place outside of Europe, with four teams traveling to the United States to test out the mini-tournament. Given that several clubs, including Chelsea and Arsenal, are already committed to traveling there for pre-season, it may be viewed favorably if the financial benefit is lucrative enough. Fielding strong lineups, however, may be a difficult task before the season begins.
Under the plans, teams would potentially be selected from those that finish at the top of the 36-team standings when the new Champions League format comes into play in 2024. It is thought that by introducing this idea, teams will feel more compelled to continue battling for a top-four finish in the standings if they have already qualified for the last-16 knockout rounds.
The introduction of this tournament would likely bring an end to the participation of the winner of the Champions League in the UEFA Super Cup, which is currently held by Chelsea. Instead, the Europa League champions and Europa Conference League winners would meet instead.
It comes after European football’s governing body decided to scrap plans to alter the format of the Champions League semi-finals and final fixtures. The impact of the pandemic coronavirus forced this idea to be experimented with in 2020, with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final all taking place in Lisbon.
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While it was believed that plan was the best solution at the time as fans were not allowed in stadiums, holding such an event in the future would have a significant impact on the infrastructure of any potential host city if the matches were all played within a small space of time.
It remains to be seen how UEFA’s plans would be viewed from the Premier League, where fixture schedules are already crammed to capacity due to international breaks. Managers such as Jurgen Klopp have voiced their opposition in the past to making players participate in more fixtures for financial benefit, with the Liverpool boss complaining back in March about plans to increase the size of the European Championships.
“In the summer where for the first time in ages there is no tournament, what do we do? We put in some games, ”he said. “That is the world. Uefa plans a new tournament for 32 teams or 36 or 58. I did not know that Europe had that many countries but they all play at the Euros. We just have to make sure we protect the most important ingredient of this game, and that is the players. ”