The powers that be in European club football are reportedly looking into the prospect of winners, and possibly even finalists, becoming automatically eligible for the Champions League first round proper.
In a recent survey carried out amongst the European Clubs Association (ECA) the idea appeared to be looked upon with favour. Results of the survey concluded the following results with regards to current European competitions:
• 75% expressed "satisfaction" or "extreme satisfaction" with the current structure and format of UEFA's club competitions
• 92% believe the Champions League and the Europa League should continue to exist in parallel
• 61% would welcome offering the Europa League winner and/or finalists direct qualification for the Champions League group stage the following season.
The ECA are made up of 207 of the top clubs in Europe spanning 36 countries, meaning that the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, both Manchester clubs, Barca, Real, Inter, AC Milan, and Bayern Munich would all have voted.
The ECA have revealed that, "The results of the survey clearly show that European clubs are very happy with the current competitions and do not wish to see major changes to their structure.
"The option whereby the Europa League winner/finalists automatically qualify for the Champions League group stage of the new season raised some interest and support provided that the effects on the access list are carefully considered."
Much of what happens will of course depend on the thoughts and influence of a certain Frenchman called Michel Platini, who at this stage will only reveal that all options are being considered.
Any proposal, if successful, would not occur until 2015 at the earliest. I for one believe that it would be a great idea to introduce, one that would give the relatively smaller clubs (who struggle to successfully challenge the financial heavyweights near the top of their respective leagues) an opportunity to grow via the huge cash windfalls and lucrative prestige that playing in the Champions League affords.
It would mean that teams such as Athletico Madrid would be guaranteed a Champions League spot, keeping the major footballing bullies from hogging extreme talents such as Falcao. If finalists were also included then little Fulham FC would have made the Champion’s League grade in 2010 as Europa League runners up. Think of the catalyst that could have been to propel the London club forward?
By providing Europa League participants with the incentive of Champion’s League football it would also bring back worth to a competition that is increasingly being disrespected. Moreover it would reward those that actually take the competition incredibly seriously, competing in the spirit that such a trophy deserves. Surely this can only be a good thing?
What do you think about the possibility of Europa winners/finalists being eligible for the Champions League?