FC Barcelona has won five UEFA Champions League titles, a record five UEFA Super Cup, a record four UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups, a record three Inter-Cities Fairs Cups and a record three FIFA Club World Cup trophies.
FC Barcelona is apart of what is called the “big four“- England, Spain, Germany, and Italy. The big four has had all the power in the world of football but ever since the UEFA announced it will revamp the elite Champions League in 2018, teams from Scandinavia, Belgium, Netherlands, and Scotland have begun making moves to take part of the action. As part of this revamping, the UEFA has given each division four guaranteed places in the Champions League group stage form the start of the 2018-19 season. This means that the top four clubs from the top four leagues would be given 50% of the 32 places on offer- and leave the champions of other countries scrambling around for the other sixteen.
This revamping of the Champions League has left teams like Finland’s most successful club HJK Helsinki thinking it may be time to break away from the domestic leagues and join a break away competition.
“A lot of all this uncertainty we see now is down to UEFA having poor processes and not listening to clubs” HJK Helsinki chief executive Aki Riihilahti told CNN.
Riihilahti is one chief executive of many who has voiced concern over the UEFA’s plan to revamp. This controversy came after talks between leading clubs wanting to form their own breakaway competition. In March of this year, five of the Premier League’s big teams met at The Dorchester hotel in London. According to The Sun, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Chelsea were there to discuss a European super league. It would be a new, invite-only competition that would include the biggest English clubs parter with their continental counterparts. This would mean the end of the Champions League and pose a huge threat to both the Premier League and UEFA.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu tells BBC he backs the idea of having tennis-style wild card entries for clubs who fail to qualify for the Champion’s League:
So, the main issue lies here: Europe’s big clubs are feeling threatened by the EPL, the smaller leagues feel they will be pushed out by the Champions League changes.
FC Copenhagen director Anders Horsholt told Danish media last week that, “If we do not act now, we will see the biggest clubs grow larger and stronger while it will be increasingly difficult for clubs like us. We must therefore look at alternative international opportunities for FC Copenhagen in the future.”
“Here it is still too early to talk about specific models, but the discussion of leagues across European borders is a theme that we look at and actively participate in. We understand that the biggest clubs act as they do. But it also means that we must look at the market it leaves and seek alliances with teams from other countries in the same situation.”
CNN contacted 14 clubs linked to the breakaway league by Danish media, and received responses from just three.
Niclas Carlnen, CEO of Swedish team Malmo, told CNN that, “It will be tougher to get into the Champions League and, as it looks, it may be even impossible later on. Of course we still want the possibility to get into the Champions League in the future in which we have played the last years.”
UEFA said in a statement that, “Domestic competitions are the foundation of football in Europe. Though transnational competitions have been mentioned in some cases, there are currently no concrete proposals on the table. Any such idea or proposal would only be discussed by UEFA if submitted by its national associations, with their clubs and leagues, as this could be a strategic development in some European regions.”
There are no answers yet regarding the future of European football. For now, the clubs must focus on the immediate future and their success in the league.