UEFA are reportedly planning to replace the traditional format with a “final four” tournament in one host city, reminiscent of the conclusion of the Nations League competition
UEFA could reportedly scrap the traditional two-legged Champions League semi-finals, with momentum building behind a proposed “week of football” instead.
The current format, which sees the final four teams face-off against each other home and away has been in place since 1955, but could be changed as Europe’s governing body plots radical changes to the tournament. At the start of the 2024/25 season, the updated Champions League format is set to be launched, which will likely include group matches from six to 10, with extra teams qualifying for the competition.
The Times report that while the European Club Association (ECA) have yet to reach a decision, there is growing support for straight knockout matches from the semi-final stage, with both games and the final taking place in one host city, resembling a festival of football in one concentrated area.
That would closely resemble the conclusion of the Nations League competition and would eliminate the opportunity for second legs of ties like the pulsating meeting between Manchester City and Real Madrid, which is delicately balanced at 4-3 on Tuesday night.
The Premier League and LaLiga champions went toe-to-toe in Manchester in a game for the ages, with the second leg at the Bernabeu promising to be one of the most anticipated Champions League games in recent years. Instead, UEFA are said to believe that single-leg knockout ties, as seen in the Covid-affected 2020 tournament, add extra peril and excitement.
The report claims that while some figures at UEFA are reluctant to make such a huge change, president Aleksander Ceferin has previously hinted he would be open to the idea of a week of football.
“If you look at the Super Bowl it’s a great event and they do it in a great way, they have concerts and people go there and have fun,” Ceferin told the Times last year. “Even if you lose those two matches you can get more revenue to compensate.
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“It could be a fantastic event for broadcasters, for sponsors. In the same week you could have the final of the women’s Champions League or youth competitions, you could really have a fantastic week of football. These knockout matches are different and more exciting.”
Any change would be introduced along with the new format in two years’ time, meaning the final at Wembley in 2024 would be the last one played under the traditional format.
ECA chairman and Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is a vocal proponent of the “final four” format and has publicly pleaded his case for radical changes to provide a spectacle more reminiscent of NFL’s showpiece event.
“The Super Bowl, and the US generally, have this mindset, creativity and entertainment,” he told theAthletic. “That’s what I have suggested, to have an opening ceremony to the Champions League, to have one match on the opening night where the winners take on a big team — maybe it is not a good idea, but at least let’s challenge the status what. Each match needs to be an event and entertainment.”