New Champions League Format “A Scandal” Says Ligue 1 Union Boss

The top four leagues in Europe are to be guaranteed four Champions League spots from the 2018/19 season onwards, leaving the head of the Premiere Ligue union fuming.

by UK Sports Staff
Aug 30 2016, 1:49pm

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This article originally appeared on VICE Sports UK.

The head of a union representing Ligue 1 teams has said that recently announced changes to the Champions League format are "a scandal."

Last week, UEFA announced that the top four leagues in Europe – La Liga, Serie A, the Premier League and the Bundesliga, as it stands – are to be guaranteed four Champions League spots from the 2018/19 season onwards. Those leagues take the top four spots based on the notorious 'coefficient' table, with Ligue 1 ranked in fifth place.

While there are few critics of the move amongst Europe's richest and most successful clubs – it's bound to make the Champions League even more lucrative, after all – there has been outcry amongst fans in those countries which have been overlooked. Now, ESPN reports that Bernard Caiazzo, president of the Premiere Ligue union, has voiced deep displeasure over the new format.

Speaking about the changes to the qualification process, Caiazzo said: "In the way it was done, it's a scandal. There's currently a power vacuum at UEFA and the ECA (European Club Association), and it's been taken advantage of to impose this reform with the help of UEFA apparatchiks.

"In France, nobody was aware of it," Caiazzo went on. "Why did [Lyon president] Jean-Michel Aulas, who's part of the executive office of the ECA, not forewarn anyone in the league? It feels like a scam.

"It's the first step towards a closed European league – a way of allowing rich clubs to earn even more money."

Not everyone agrees with Caiazzo's assessment of the situation, however. While the current format dictates that the third-placed club in Ligue 1 must go through two qualifying rounds to reach the Champions League group stage, that is reduced to only one qualifying round under the new rules.

Some have argued that, accordingly, the new format could make it easier for three French clubs to qualify for the Champions League each season, even if it does leave Ligue 1 with an established disadvantage in comparison to, say, the Premier League.

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