MILAN (Reuters) - UEFA is not planning to stage Champions League matches at weekends before 2027, Serie A’s chief executive Luigi De Siervo said on Thursday after taking part in a meeting with European soccer’s ruling body.
De Siervo said that, under UEFA’s proposals, a total of 128 teams would be involved in a European competition divided into three tiers, with promotion and relegation between each.
The new format, replacing the Champions League and Europa League which together feature 80 teams in the group stages, would start in 2024.
De Siervo added that qualification for the first edition of the new competition would be based on performances over the previous three or four seasons.
UEFA presented its plans to representatives of Europe’s domestic leagues, including De Siervo, at its headquarters in Switzerland on Wednesday.
There are concerns that big clubs are trying to acquire captive places within the new competition regardless of their performances in their own domestic leagues, and that teams from outside the big five leagues would be squeezed out.
This would make it even more difficult for middle-sized clubs to emulate Ajax Amsterdam, who reached the semi-finals of this season’s Champions League.
“The project has been drawn up and there are just some details missing,” De Siervo told reporters at an event in Milan.
“There are some important details to be decided, such as the number of teams per country. For the 2024-27 cycle, weekends will be dedicated to domestic leagues.”
He said that, from Serie A’s point of view, it was important that teams could still qualify via their domestic leagues.
“Our league’s wish is that the criteria of sporting merit does not exist just within the competition but should as much as possible be linked to the national championships,” he said.
The European Leagues, the umbrella group for the continent’s domestic leagues, has said it would not agree to UEFA matches being played at weekends or any sort of closed league. It says only a handful of clubs back UEFA’s proposals.
UEFA has said it is still in a consultation process with the clubs, leagues and national associations before making a final decision.
Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond