Jurgen Klopp and fellow coaches not engaged in European competition format talks

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Coaches and managers will not be directly involved or represented in meetings to draw up the new format for European club competitions post-2024, despite the prospect of more games being added to the calendar.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been a particularly outspoken critic of fixture scheduling this season and described a previous Champions League expansion plan, floated in 2019, as “absolute b******s”.

The European Leagues body will meet with UEFA to discuss the future look of continental club competitions from the 2024-25 season on Wednesday.

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said conversations were taking place over expanding the Champions League
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said conversations were taking place over expanding the Champions League (Martin Rickett/PA)

Reports at the time Woodward spoke, and earlier this month, suggest a 36-team league, where each team plays 10 matches under the so-called ‘Swiss system’, is being strongly considered to replace the current 32-team group phase.

That would mean four additional matches for teams compared to the six which are played in the Champions League currently, which without changes elsewhere presents a fresh headache for Klopp and his peers.

Lars-Christer Olsson, the president of European Leagues, said on Friday: “There is no coaches’ organisation invited as a stakeholder for example. The stakeholders are the leagues, the clubs and the players who are involved in the discussions, as far as I know.

“It’s of course open to UEFA to invite other stakeholders. I think however that the individual clubs could speak on behalf of the coaches of course, and these discussions are also going on inside the different leagues.

“Of course the coaches’ opinions are channelled via the clubs, but as far as I know there is no coaches’ organisation involved in the process.

“I don’t think we have any intention to do it on our side because we are talking directly to the member leagues. We are not going to take any other initiatives there.”

Lars-Christer Olsson is the president of European Leagues
Lars-Christer Olsson is the president of European Leagues (Jamie Gardner/PA)

World players’ union FIFPRO does have an input into the discussions, as do the clubs via the European Club Association (ECA), which Liverpool are part of.

Reports in the UK this week suggest that the Premier League’s big six could all qualify for the Champions League in a proposed new-look format, with four places via domestic league placing as is the case now, plus two other places being available to teams across Europe based on coefficient rating, which looks at historical performance.

Olsson was asked whether Wednesday’s meeting was the start of the process, or rather whether he would be presented with a fait accompli.

“We have been promised by the UEFA president (Aleksander Ceferin) that we should have a genuine process this time, and we should try to avoid having these high notes as we had in the discussions in 2019. I believe that until I have seen something different,” he said.

Olsson said earlier this week that it would not be correct if semi-finalists and finalists joined the winners in qualifying for the following season’s Champions League as part of any new proposed format.

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