Proposed Champions League changes could benefit Manchester United and Manchester City in terms of future qualification.
UEFA is planning a shake-up of its flagship club tournament – apparently in a bid to fend of attempts to set up a breakaway “European Super League”.
Under the proposals, three spots would reportedly be allocated based on past performances in European competitions.
According to The Times, a group of Premier League clubs want to fight the plans as they feel it offers an unfair advantage to the bigger clubs, such as United, City and Liverpool, offering them a “safety net” should they fail to qualify via the traditional route.
The report claims it could lead to a situation where a club with a high UEFA coefficient could earn a place in the Champions League ahead of a rival Premier League team with a lower coefficient – such as Leicester City, Everton and Aston Villa – even if they finish below them in the table.
A number of clubs outside the so-called “big six” are said to have held talks this week to discuss their opposition to the proposals.
The Times quotes a senior executive at one of the clubs involved as saying: “There is a strong feeling among many clubs that qualifying for the Champions League should be on sporting merit only, and we are pushing hard for the Premier League to reflect that in its response.
“It would be ludicrous for a team like Leicester to finish fifth and be leapfrogged by the likes of Arsenal two places below them.”
UEFA intends to increase the number of teams in the Champions League from 32 to 36 – from 2024.
All would be in a single division and play against 10 opponents based on a seeding system.
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Manchester United beat West Ham 1-0 in the FA Cup, thanks to Scott McTominay’s extra-time winner.
United sealed a spot in the cup quarter-finals with victory over David Moyes’ side at Old Trafford, and now they travel to West Brom in the league on Sunday.
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City currently lead the way in the Premier League this season, five points clear of second-placed United, with a game in hand.
Leicester are third, three points clear of reigning champions Liverpool.
City are preparing to face Borussia Monchengladbach in the last 16 of the Champions League, while United were knocked out in the group stage.