Changes to the Champions League are unlikely to be decided this year with governing body UEFA calling off joint talks with the heads of European clubs and leagues.
These bosses have spent months arguing over a potential radical overhaul of the format of European competitions.
European Club Association (ECA) chairman Andrea Agnelli – criticised for championing a largely closed Champions League – and European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson are due to meet UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin on September 11.
“I have decided to postpone the meeting,” Ceferin wrote to Agnelli and Olsson. “I will send a new invitation as soon as I think that we are ready for a meaningful discussion.”
The letter was sent a day before the ECA executive board, led by the Juventus chairman Agnelli, met in private in Liverpool to discuss their vision for an overhaul of continent-wide club competitions from 2024. The third competition – provisionally called Europa League Two – is due to launch in 2021.
“We are currently in the process of gathering feedback from our national associations,” Ceferin wrote, “and I feel … that a new discussion now would be premature as we are analysing feedback and proposals coming from different parties.”
The European Leagues group has fiercely opposed Agnelli’s core idea of restricting Champions and Europa league access, as have dozens of teams from across the continent who are ECA members.
A proposal presented earlier this year by UEFA would guarantee 24 of 32 Champions League group teams return the following season, introducing significant promotion and relegation with the Europa League. Leagues fear end-of-season intrigue will be reduced in their competitions, with finishing positions determining qualification for Europe.
“As you know very well, UEFA deliberately kicked off the review process for the 2024/27 competition cycle much ahead of our regular schedule and we are therefore in no hurry,” Ceferin told Agnelli and Olsson. “We do not, in any case, expect to make a decision this year.”
The ECA has been calling for eight-team Champions League groups instead of four. That would guarantee clubs more revenue from UEFA for playing 14 games before the knockout rounds instead of six.
That would benefit the illustrious clubs who want to play each other more often in Europe, appearing to be dissatisfied with a lack of competition at home. Juventus have won eight-straight Italian titles, Bayern Munich have claimed the past seven in Germany and Paris Saint-Germain have taken six of seven in France.
The English Premier League is the leading force resisting dramatic Champions League changes, claiming to have backing from all of its teams. That includes Manchester United, whose executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is an ECA executive board member.