We wrote last week that all the machinations over a European Superleague, a rejigged Champions League and the proposed disbanding of the G-14 spoke of a grand compromise in the making between UEFA and the big clubs. Platini needed to keep the constituency that has supported him, the weaker nations, happy by including more of them; the G-14 needed to keep four spots in the tournament reserved for the stronger leagues. Platini’s recent proposal to include cup winners as well was a red herring, designed so both sides could declare victory and save face.
And UEFA is soon expected to confirm that more champions from the weaker leagues will enter the competition; cup winners will not; and the big leagues will keep four spots each (some might say this was a slight win for them, as they now have three automatic entries to the group stage; on the other hand, the fourth entrant will now have to navigate an extra qualifying round).
These quotes from UEFA and a G-14 spokesman speak of a grand compromise.
The cup winners’ inclusion was “a minor point and it has been delayed in a spirit of conciliation,” said UEFA spokesman William Gaillard, adding that the issue could be discussed again in three years.
Gaillard said that the main goal of the reorganization — to give more nations a place in Europe’s premier club competition — had been achieved.
“What president Platini had in his program was the widening of the group stage to more champions from middle-sized nations,” Gaillard said.
UEFA’s executive committee is expected to approve the proposal next month.
The G14 group of powerful European clubs is happy that the cup winners won’t be included.
“We always thought it was not a good idea,” G14 general manager Thomas Kurth said. “Now, we see it will not come through. It is fine by us.”