UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has admitted he would be open to the Champions League knockout stages being reformatted into a single-city mini-tournament following the success of this season’s competition.
While the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has had a disastrous effect on football across the globe, the enforced rescheduling of the European calendar has inadvertently created an exciting end-of-season spectacle, with the quarters, semis and final of the Champions League being held in Lisbon, while the Europa League has been played out in Germany.
While two-legged ties can sometimes be tight and tentative affairs, this year’s format – which has seen the quarters and semi’s played as single leg ties – has provided us with high drama, with Lyon knocking out favourites Man City, while Bayern Munich destroyed Barcelona 8-2, and Ceferin has admitted that this year’s ‘interesting’ format will be ‘seriously’ discussed by UEFA when they meet later this year.
“I have to say that this system of one match seems more interesting to me than the other system with two-legged matches,” Ceferin told the Press Association.
“It’s one of the interesting things that was brought by this pandemic,” he added. “We had to do a system like that. We had to play this way, but at the end, we see it’s a very interesting system.
“Now, it’s quite complicated to place a final eight in the calendar. But we saw that people want exciting matches, that in one match, every team can beat every team in Champions League or the Europa League. So it’s something to consider for the future … I think in September or October, we have to start to seriously speak.”
With six fewer games than the regular format, it has been suggested that UEFA, their sponsors and the broadcasters would oppose a switch to a single-leg format, though Ceferin thinks that the added drama and excitement would provide added value.
“Even though you have less matches, the value can be higher if promoted properly,” he said. “I see my friends from football and out of football calling me and texting me and they are all extremely excited about this system. Not so much tactics.”
“You are in the center of attention for a week of the whole world and this might be a fantastic thing, but we have to see.
“The calendar is very complicated, players play almost 365 days per year. So we have to see how we do it, if we do it.
“But again, I think it’s an interesting format, which we didn’t think about before and now it’s somewhere here in our mind. So we will start discussing about it when we meet up.”