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Proposals could see ‘big four’ lose Champions League place

EUROPE’S big four leagues may have to make do with one less automatic place in the Champions League group phase as part of efforts to secure a fairer future for the competition beyond 2024.

Lars-Christer Olsson, president of the European Leagues body which represents the interests of 36 professional leagues across 29 countries, is in favour of adopting a three-tier model for continental competition with qualification based solely on domestic performance.

That puts him at odds with Juventus president Andrea Agnelli, who is also chairman of the European Club Association. He favours a ‘pyramid’ model featuring promotion and relegation, an increase in the number of group-stage matches and more qualification places being decided by continental rather than domestic performance.

Olsson said Agnelli’s proposals amount to a ‘closed league’ which would ‘kill’ domestic competition and believes the solution to allow the mid-ranking and smaller nations greater guarantees is to overturn a decision made by Uefa in 2016 to grant four automatic group berths to clubs from England, Germany, Spain and Italy, which came into effect last season.

‘Giving four fixed positions to the top associations should be questioned because that closes the opportunities for others,’ he said at the Leaders Week Sport Business Summit at Twickenham yesterday.

Asked whether he thought the leagues would go for that, he added: ‘I think some of the big leagues would be fine if they are all treated in the same way. If you are giving four positions to the Premier League and taking one away from the Bundesliga, then you have a problem.’