UEFA's new competition could 'destroy small leagues' - EPFL chief

Stephan UersfeldGermany correspondent3 Minute Read

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European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) general secretary Georg Pangl has warned that a new UEFA club competition could "destroy the small leagues."

Sport Bild reported last week that UEFA is set to launch a third club competition with 32 teams from 2021, and that the European Club Association (ECA) was one of the driving forces behind the reported changes.

The German outlet also said the current Europa League format of 48 teams will be reduced to just 32, making it a total of 96 clubs playing in the group stages of three club competitions from 2021 onwards, and Pangl said a new competition may already have been decided, but that the EPFL were not consulted.

However, the 53-year-old Austrian said his association was not heard in the process and warned that the new competition "will destroy the inner balance of the small leagues."

"We only received first info from UEFA in July 2018, when we pressed for it," he said. "It was discussed by the UEFA club commission last week in Monaco and the basic concept was approved.

"Only that day, we and FIFPro [the worldwide representative organisation for professional players] received an update.

"We want to take part in the consultation process from the beginning, and not when the product is finished.

The draw for the 2018-19 Champions League group stage took place last week.Getty

With the decision on a third club competition "fundamentally" made regardless, Pangl warned that "it will impact the national leagues."

"Once again, it's about new UEFA income and payments to participating clubs which -- just like in the Champions League and Europa League -- will destroy the inner balance of the small leagues," Pangl said. "Even though it might only be about comparable small money: If for instance Sarajevo gets €3 million in the future, in Bosnia-Herzegovina it's worth as much as €30m in other leagues and will lead to unfair competition."

Sport Bild have said the third competition could also be played in eight groups with four teams each.

The eight group winners would qualify for the round of last 16, while the runners-up go into a playoff with the third-placed teams of the eight Europa League groups.

The matches are set to be played on Thursdays, ahead of Europa League matches.

The decision to introduce a third competition could be made as early as Sept. 27, when the UEFA executive committee meets in Nyon to decide on the hosts of the 2024 European Championship.