UEFA are believed to be considering plans to extend the Champions League from 32 to 64 teams and scrapping the Europa League, according to the BBC. President of European Football’s Governing Body Michel Platini said:
“We’re discussing it. We will make a decision in 2014. Nothing is decided yet. There is an ongoing debate to determine what form the European competitions will have between 2015 and 2018. “
As it stands, four Barclays Premier League teams and two Scottish Premier League sides qualify for the competition, but under the new proposal, these would be increased to seven and five respectively. The Europa League, which replaced the old UEFA Cup in 2009, would be dissolved as a result.
The Europa League has often been mocked and maligned as a substandard competition, considered a nuisance and inconvenience by the English sides currently contesting it; Newcastle manager Alan Pardew recently claimed the competition was “killing his side” because of its grueling schedule and Thursday night kick offs.
Liverpool supporters, used to success in the Champions League, have been taunted by rival fans over recent years with the terrace chant “You’ll be playing on Channel 5 next season”.
However, Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas, who’s side also contest the competition, cannot fathom its unpopularity in England. The Portuguese won the tournament with Porto in 2011, a success which convinced Roman Abramovich, owner of current European Champions Chelsea, to appoint the young coach as manager that summer.
“I respect the competition. I certainly think it is viewed as a punishment in England and I cannot understand why. It is a traditional trophy.”
In spite of that, the Europa League does carry much less of a financial incentive for clubs in comparison to the Champions League. Manchester United earned £20million more than last seasons Europa League Winners Atletico Madrid, despite them being eliminated in the Group Stages of the competition.
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This article was first posted on November 30, 2012