Premier League will resist attempts to play Champions League at weekends

Premier League Trophy

Richard Scudamore has insisted the Premier League will “pull out all the stops” to resist any attempt to play Champions League matches at weekends or introduce guaranteed places for bigger clubs.

Both ideas have been floated by senior Uefa insiders as European football’s governing body considers how to revamp the competition from 2018-19 onwards and head off renewed talk of a breakaway competition among bigger clubs.

In light of the increase in viewers and profile sparked by moving the final to Saturday one idea being mooted is to move some Champions League matches to weekends during the later rounds.

Another suggestion from some sides, also being discussed by the European Club Association, is that qualification would be based on a side’s record over three seasons – making it less likely that the usual contestants would miss out.

But Scudamore said the Premier League would strongly resist any such suggestion. The organisation’s executive chairman said that, if other European leagues wish to consider awarding their Champions League places in a different way, they can but that the English top flight would remain “an open competition”.

“If you land in the first four places, you are in the Champions League and it is as simple as that. The idea you might average the qualification over a number of years just seems completely ridiculous.”

Given the Premier League’s new £8.3bn TV deal, much of the pressure for changes to European competition has come from clubs in Spain and Italy and Scudamore said he was perhaps minded to let national associations decide for themselves in conjunction with Uefa. “We are quite happy with our qualification system in England for our places.”

Scudamore, who was effusive about the effect of Leicester’s title win on the competition, also said the idea of moving European matches to the weekend was a nonstarter. “Look, in 1888 people used to tip out of factories at lunchtime on Saturday to play professional football on Saturday afternoons. Fundamentally we are a weekend competition,” he said.

“Again it is in nobody’s interests running leagues anywhere in the world that the calendar is altered in that way. These are all things that are being bandied around and they are nowhere near coming to fruition and we would resist and fight and pull out all the stops.”

Scudamore also said he had no concerns over Brentford’s decision to scrap their academy, predicting that other Football League clubs would follow suit as the changes brought in under its £340m elite player performance plan overhaul took effect.

“I think it’s a brave move by Brentford. At the end of the day it’s a matter for them if they think the late-developer model is the one for them. In some ways it is odd that we’re running 91, 92 academies,” he said. “This is not our intention or our ambition but who is to say 92 is the right number? Who is to say 20 category-one [academies] is the right number.”

Scudamore was unapologetic about the fact that the best talent would flow to the biggest clubs with the best academies, but said the changes were designed so that Football League clubs would be compensated over time if players who moved to bigger clubs made it to the first team.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Owen Gibson, for theguardian.com on Friday 13th May 2016 22.59 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

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