(K. Brent Tomer),
FOOTBALL purists have long argued that the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s top international club competition, does not live up to its name. Until 1992, only the reigning champions from the continent’s domestic leagues had the right to be crowned Europe’s best. Today, barely half of entrants can make that claim: 15 of the 32 teams in this year’s group stage failed to win their domestic leagues in 2015-16. This trend will only be exacerbated by the changes announced on August 26th by UEFA, the sport’s European governing body, which will make qualification easier in the future for also-ran clubs in rich leagues. Starting in 2018-19, half of the 32 group-stage places will be reserved for the top four teams in the four best-performing leagues in European competitions (Spain, Germany, England and Italy). Four more automatic places will go to France and Portugal, and two to Russia and Ukraine. And as for the champions from the likes of the Netherlands, Switzerland and Turkey? They will just have to slog it out in the play-offs.
Modifications to the entry criteria are not the only changes afoot. UEFA will also begin to award clubs bonus points…Continue reading