The Premier League has discussed offering clubs a financial bonus for progressing to the later rounds of the Europa League as part of an attempt to prevent England losing one of its four Champions League spots.
Amid wide-ranging discussion about fixture congestion and scheduling, ways to incentivise clubs to take the Europa League more seriously were also debated at the latest Premier League meeting.
The league is at risk of losing its fourth Champions League spot to Serie A from 2017-18, though Uefa said that at the halfway mark of this season’s competitions English clubs narrowly retained third place from Italy in the coefficient table that measures results for the past five years.
At last week’s Premier League shareholders meeting there is believed to have been broad discussion around ideas that could help ease fixture congestion, including the possibility of scrapping FA Cup replays or two-leg League Cup semi-finals.
In recognition that reaching the later stages of the Europa League can impact on the coefficient ranking, there is understood to have been discussion of whether a portion of the Premier League’s £8.3bn TV deal could offer a financial bonus to successful clubs.
Although Fulham and Chelsea have progressed to the final since it replaced the Uefa Cup, clubs have generally considered it more of a burden than an opportunity.
The ideas were discussed in the context of helping English clubs improve their performances in Europe but also overlap with a belief at the Football Association that the time has come to debate fixture congestion in a rounded way, with the aim of helping the national team.
The FA chief executive, Martin Glenn, is believed to have said in an exchange of letters with Manchester City, prompted by the club’s fury over the scheduling of their FA Cup fifth-round tie with Chelsea, that it was time to discuss the calendar and related issues in a more strategic fashion. There is understood to be broad agreement between the FA and the Premier League that it is time to take another look at the crowded fixture calendar.
The Premier League has long argued a winter break would be practical only if FA Cup replays were scrapped. Other suggestions could include moving FA Cup ties to midweek.
The last time a range of radical ideas to reform the FA Cup was considered, under the previous FA chairman David Bernstein, a decision was made to maintain the status quo and improve the promotion of the tournament. Under the broadcasting deal with the BBC and BT Sport, it is generally felt the FA Cup is a much improved proposition. Any tinkering with the format would be a long-term consideration, with changes impossible to implement until the TV deal ends in 2018.
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