‘Clubs don’t want them, fans don’t want them, broadcasters aren’t asking for them’: Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish SLAMS the Champions League expansion plans but admits it’s ‘probably too late’ even after row over cash delayed vote on them
- Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has hit out the Champions League reforms
- Plans include increasing teams from 32 to 36 and protected access for big clubs
- Widespread concerns have been expressed, including Premier League and FA
- Parish believes ‘clubs don’t want them, fans don’t want them and broadcasters aren’t asking for them’
Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has hit out at UEFA’s plans to expand the Champions League, claiming ‘most clubs don’t want them, most fans don’t want them and broadcasters aren’t asking for them.’
Huge reforms to Europe’s leading club competition have divided opinion across football and were dramatically objected to on Tuesday, leading to a delay in the vote to rubber stamp them.
The plans include growing the Champions League from 32 to 36 teams, increasing the number of matches by 100, and giving preferential access to the continent’s biggest clubs from 2024.
Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has hit out at the Champions League expansion plans
Parish says ‘clubs and fans don’t want them while the broadcasters aren’t asking for them’
During talks over switching up the format, UEFA has received huge objections from the FA, Premier League, as well as associations, leagues and small and medium-sized clubs across Europe.
Parish, who has been the chairman of Palace since 2010, is among those against the plans and claims they are the ‘latest in a long line of machinations that represent long-term threats to domestic football’.
He also criticised the powerful European Club Association (ECA), which has been heavily involved in negotiations with UEFA over the format and management of the new competition.
Writing in a column in The Times, Parish said: ‘It is my view that we need to scrutinise them (the plans) every bit as much as we do decisions taken in the Premier League. Make no mistake, these are the latest in a long line of machinations that represent long-term threats to domestic football as we know it.
‘When we vote in the Premier League, I understand that we have a unique responsibility and duty to the game and that there will be scrutiny of our decisions — as there should be.
UEFA want more teams, more matches and bigger clubs to have preferential access from 2024
UEFA has received firm objections from the FA, Premier League, as well as from across Europe
‘In contrast, there is a very real danger these fundamental European reforms — which would begin to change football irrevocably — could just slip through.
‘Let’s be clear about these proposals, most clubs don’t want them, most fans don’t want them, broadcasters aren’t asking for them.
‘But it is likely that they will pass because 20 members of the ECA have effectively highjacked the governance of the game. They also know that the consequences are so remote that by the time we wake up to it, it will be probably be too late.’
Parish’s condemnation comes a day after UEFA’s plans were at risk of being derailed after European clubs objected to the proposals at the final moment.
A vote was due to take place at an executive committee meeting on Wednesday, but UEFA were forced to go back to the negotiating table before a vote can take place.
While the issue will be discussed on Wednesday, a decision will be delayed until the next meeting of the executive committee on April 19.
UEFA has been trying to balance competing interests after months of discussion and wanted a broad agreement at its executive committee meeting, but it finally lost confidence in forcing the vote through.
The European Leagues, led by the influential Lars-Christer Olsson, have led the opposition and taken a hard line on the proposals.
They have been a critic of increasing the number of matches in the group phase to 10 and the allocation of the four extra places in the competition.
The Leagues want extra places to go to new league winners, not to be recycled among the strongest leagues and clubs.
Following the decision to postpone a vote on the reformed Champions League, UEFA said in a statement: ‘The future of club competitions post-2024 will be one of the topics discussed. However, any official decision in this respect will only be made at the next UEFA Executive Committee meeting on 19 April, in order to finalise ongoing discussions.’
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