Today, news which should please us all; two European leagues have outright rejected the plans for a revamped Champions League when the next cycle of “reform” comes around.
The Danish and Swiss leagues are the first out of the starting gate, but they will not be the last.
This comes a month after news that Ajax, Celtic and a group of other clubs, part of the European Leagues organisation, stated their opposition to the same.
The European Leagues body and its member clubs are finally saying “no more” to the grasping, money driven European Club Association which has directed the course of UEFA for far too long.
The reforms proposed by the ECA for 2021 were truly disturbing; an even more “closed shop” qualification system for the top competition, with “relegation and promotion” from their groups. There would be less groups – four instead of eight – and these would comprise more games because the groups themselves would be doubled in size.
Contained within the proposals were things that national leagues found alarming; match-days being held on weekends and the idea that clubs would no longer qualify for the Champions League based on domestic performance, but by way of recent European exploits.
In other words, if you got to the groups and did well you might qualify automatically for them in the following campaign, regardless of where you finished in your domestic league.
All of this would have benefited a handful of clubs at the expense of everyone else.
This was the moment when national leagues – including La Liga and the EPL, both of whom are strongly opposed to these proposals – began to wake up to the inherent dangers of the ECA and its ideas; something that should have been obvious to them years ago.
And it seems that finally action is being taken, and resistance offered.
Now with the European Leagues organisation against it and individual associations coming out in opposition there is a chance that these so-called reforms will be parked, and something more egalitarian brought in in their place.
Although the clubs, and our own in particular, are right still to be wary, there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel and a chance at a better future.
Clearly, our alliance with Ajax has come through at the perfect time, with their startling European run raising the profile of clubs out-with the elite, and the ridiculous spectacle of them having to play their way through qualifiers if they are to reach the Group Stages next time, in spite of their having taken care of Real Madrid and Juventus along the way.
The qualification path is still incredibly convoluted and our task immensely difficult; there are six spots available in the Groups through that route, because 26 of the 32 sides get in automatically due to the co-efficient process and the scandal of having some leagues represented by four teams.
One of two things would need to happen for that to change.
Either our team reaches the groups more often and the co-efficient goes up as a result, giving us an automatic place – which is unlikely at best – or some of the dire changes which have been forced on the competition in recent years are rolled back.
Neither of those appears likely. I’ll try and get a piece up about what it would take for us to get an easier ride, but trust me when I say that it’s a long road and we’ve not even started to move upwards on it yet, either as a club or in terms of national co-efficient points.
For now, we have to take what little victories we can get, and at the moment that means celebrating that the worst of the proposed qualification changes looks dead in the water with opposition to it growing by the day.