Champions League set for change as two-legged semi-final to be scrapped

UEFA Champions League knockout stage set for refit;  two-legged semi-finals to be scrapped

Europe’s premier club competition could be set for a major facelift as the UEFA Champions League looks set to refit the latter stages of the competition in favor of a “week of football.”

As reported by the Times as well as the Mirror and other outlets, UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin is in favor of a format change that would see the two-legged semi-final stripped and replaced with a week of football surrounding one-off semi-final matches in the run-up to the end.

This format would be similar to what is seen in the UEFA Nations League while also being hosted at a neutral venue, with Ceferin likening it to the Super Bowl in the United States.

“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. Even if you lose those two matches you can get more revenue to compensate.”

“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.”

UEFA Champions League knockout stage set for refit;  two-legged semi-finals to be scrapped

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 17: General view inside the stadium of the sunset and the big screen prior to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between Chelsea FC and Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge on March 17, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matthew Lewis – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

That change of format has also been endorsed by ECA chairman and Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who stated: “The Super Bowl, and the US generally, have this mindset, creativity, and entertainment.”

“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 quo . Each match needs to be an event and entertainment.” (note: quotes via the Athletic)

But football purists surely will put up stiff opposition for the change that looks set to be put into action come the 2024-25 season, with the unparalleled drama of European nights both home and away to be shown the door in favor of better commercial opportunities for the big fish while stripping fans of the ability to enjoy Champions League on their home patch, or having a memorable away night with fellow supporters.

Should plans be finalized, it appears to be another example of football going the way of finance rather than passion.

This article was edited by
Ben Browning.

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