Highlights on Off The Ball

10:00 AM-01:00 PM

Highlights on Off The Ball


‘I hate all these ideas’ | Dan McDonnell on the Champions League expansion

Irish Independent journalist Dan McDonnell was not enthused about the reports of expanding the cu...


‘I hate all these ideas’ | Dan McDonnell on the Champions League expansion

Irish Independent journalist Dan McDonnell was not enthused about the reports of expanding the current Champions League on Wednesday’s Off The Ball.

It was reported on Tuesday that, from 2024, the Champions League could move to a “Swiss format”, which would result in four extra games per season.

Additionally, it could mean the creation of a similar system to the pool system currently in place in the Heineken Champions Cup rugby.

McDonnell is tired of hearing about the potential expansions to the European football competitions.

“At this stage, if I see another story about ‘well here’s a new plan for a Champions League expansion or European Super League, it feels like it is the same story repeating again and again,” McDonnell said.

“I haven’t delved into the specifics of this one. My own perspective is that I pretty much hate all of these ideas.

“But there is inevitability about the momentum towards it. UEFA are under a certain amount of pressure to try and keep the clubs with them.

“There is always the talk of alternative, breakaway competitions and FIFA’s version of the tournament that they have been floating.

“It all seems to be one big negotiation eventually.”

McDonnell thinks that, by changing the Champions League in the manner that has been suggested, it will make it less accessible to clubs from smaller countries, like Ireland.

“What happens is that you eventually just erode the accessibility of the Champions League that small bit more,” McDonnell said.

“What we end up with is a security for four Italian clubs, and for four clubs from a number of leagues, and one fewer place for champions from around Europe and so on.

“All these proposals are basically a version of that.”

McDonnell acknowledged that UEFA has to keep the clubs happy, because they cannot afford to lose the Champions League.

Champions League LISBON, PORTUGAL - AUGUST 23: A detail view of the Champions League Trophy prior to during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich at Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on August 23, 2020 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Michael Regan - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images) (Photo by pressinphoto/Sipa USA)

However, they are still ultimately the association with the power behind the league.

“UEFA can’t afford to lose the Champions League, because it is worth so much money to them,” McDonnell said.

“At the same time, UEFA also have the power of running competitions, and between the clubs and UEFA, it is always this back and forth.

“What ultimately happens is maybe not 100% of what is floated, but a percentage more towards the direction of preserving the position of certain teams.

“A lot of these plans are about guaranteeing places for teams if they have bad seasons and making it more of a league within a league.

“If you have a good performance within it, then you are not vulnerable to not qualifying through your own league.”

The Champions League is fine as it is

McDonnell would rather see the current league continue in the same form that it is in now, as it is the best version he has seen out of all of them that have been suggested.

“I am not in favour of it,” McDonnell said. “But then I am coming from it from the perspective, I like the idea, of a champions competition being for champions from various countries.

“I know that I am swimming against the tide of TV money and inevitably where that goes, but there is no one proposal that I have heard that I think, ‘yeah, that’s the right one’.

“Effectively what they have at the moment is the right one.

“It has it’s imperfections, you will have one-sided games, you will have dead rubbers, but it probably has the balance of representation of top clubs.

“But there is still a chance for your league winners from the smaller countries to get in there.”

Download the brand new OffTheBall App in the Play Store & App Store right now! We've got you covered!

Subscribe to OffTheBall's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.

Read more about

Champions League Champions League 2024 Dan Mcdonnell Ireland Italy UEFA