Proposals for revamped Champions League are revealed
Plans to revamp the UEFA Champions League have been revealed, with Europe's elite clubs in dialogue over proposals that could see the end of the 32-team group phase.
Widespread reports suggest that talks over a new-look Champions League have been in the pipeline for some time, with UEFA open to the prospect of altering the make-up of the marquee competition as the look to placate the concerns of Europe's top clubs.
Declining interest in the early stages of the Champions League have sparked moves to change the structure of the competition, with a 16-team group stage set-up now being considered.
A seeded pre-group stage would see top clubs square off against lower ranked sides in a bid to slim down the group phase, which would be contested in a set-up that will feature two pools of eight teams.
The top two teams in the groups would then progress to the semi-finals, meaning the last-16 and quarter-final rounds would no longer be part of the Champions League.
These proposals are an attempt by Europe's elite clubs to set up more glamorous group stages matches, with BATE Borisov's two group games against Barcelona this season cited as evidence that change is needed to maintain interest in the competition.
There is also concern from top Spanish, Italian and German clubs that the new £8billion TV deal that will kick in for Premier League clubs next season will give England's elite teams an huge financial advantage moving forward, fuelling their desire to increase revenue flow from the Champions League.
The team relegated bottom from the Premier League will receive around £140m from TV revenue and the prize money pot, with prize money for the English champions set to rise to around £150m next season before TV appearances are taken into account.
English clubs appear to be eager to embrace the changes to the Champions League structure, yet cynics are likely to suggest this is a blatant ploy to freeze out lower ranked sides and ensure UEFA's top seeds are competing in the final stages of the competition.
UEFA have yet to comments on the reports of changes to the Champions League, but their officials have confirmed that "discussions over the structure" of the competition are possible in the coming months.