Big 2024 Champions League change discussed; Celtic will be watching closely

By David Walton

January 27, 2021

ECA and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli has discussed the proposed change that could come to the Champions League from 2024 onwards.

Currently, the competition begins with a round-robin 32-team round. The competition sees all 32 clubs split into eight groups of four with the top two qualifying for the last-16.

But that looks like it could be a system that’s taking its final breaths. A fresh proposal is being discussed by UEFA to help revamp the competition in several years’ time.

Celtic have managed to qualify from the current format on three different occasions. And they’ll be keeping a keen eye on any new changes and how it affects future qualification hopes.

ESPN reports that the proposals have been put forward by Ajax, and that it would amend the CL group stage. This would subsequently see all 32 teams play 10 opponents, with qualification being determined via one league table.

As quoted by ESPN, Agnelli gave the idea his own thumbs up when he said: “I think it is a great system because it is scalable. The number of games you play in the early stages can be a non pre-determined number of games.

“What I can tell you with certainty is that… I will want any and all reforms to go through the General Assembly of the ECA with all clubs voting for whatever our collective future will be.”

Any Champions League change would be intriguing

From our perspective, the Champions League is barely worth watching when Celtic aren’t in it. Unfortunately, that’s more often the case than not these days.

Such is the rarity with which we find ourselves in the tournament, it still holds such fascination and excitement for us. Celtic fans have never found the group stages boring. Champions League football of any form is always welcome at Celtic Park.

But any changes would still be welcome so long as it doesn’t try to tilt the balance to the big-money clubs. For example, the fixtures must be fairly chosen. You can’t have the likes of a Celtic face Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, followed by Juventus.

Juventus and ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli (Photo by Filippo Alfero – Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images)

There would have to be a system in which teams play the same level of opponents. How they would do that is down to UEFA, but it’s clearly a plan that’s getting some traction. If the head of the ECA likes it too, that’s another major plus for its backers.

For me, it feels a little messy. Commercially it will have value, and of course it would allow more high-profile matches in the earlier rounds of the competition. But there can’t be any corner-cutting. This can’t be used as another way to get smaller or lesser-money clubs out quicker and earlier.

Hopefully, if any change does go through, it is indeed for the benefit of everyone – not just Europe’s elite.

In other news, Celtic are reportedly tracking a £1million-rated Hibernian defender.