SportSoccer

English clubs set for Champions League handicap

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Van Gaal hoping to guide Man Utd back into the Champions League
Van Gaal hoping to guide Man Utd back into the Champions League

English football's top clubs have been used to getting top seedings in the Champions League in recent years, but all that is about to change next season.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is among those who has strongly objected to plans for restructure the seedings in next season's Champions League, but the proposals have now been confirmed by UEFA.

It means that the champions of the seven biggest leagues in Europe named as top seeds along with the Champions League winner, which is certain to lead to a host of high profile head to head clashes among the game's top sides in the group stages.

"It's not needed because it's a competition that works best in the world and is most admired. Everyone wants to watch it," argues Wenger, whose Arsenal side are set to lose their top seeding status next season.

"I was quite surprised that they've done that. We'll see how it works. I believe it will just make the seedings useless.

"Logic is not being respected. Logic for me when you play in Europe is results in Europe.

"I'm not really fighting it because it will just make the seeding less interesting. Group one will now have less significance."

The new system means Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs would have a good chance of facing the Spanish, German or Italian champions in the group stages of next seasons, competition rather that be afforded the protection their status has secured in the past.

Arsenal and United would be in the second ranked group of teams, but City look set to be in pot 3 after falling out of the top 16 of the UEFA rankings after being knocked-out of this season's competition by Barcelona.

The old system ranked clubs on their UEFA co-efficent ranking, which currently look like this: 

1. Real Madrid (167.228 points)

2. Barcelona (156.228)

3. Bayern Munich (149.711)

4. Chelsea (142.078)

5. Atletico Madrid (118.209)

6. Benfica (111.711)

7. Schalke (111.209)

8. Arsenal (110.078)

9. FC Porto (111.209)

10 Manchester United (103.078)