The fear is that UEFA is creating a “monster” with changes to the Champions League that will make the elite even richer.
Axel Hellman, the general manager of Eintracht Frankfurt, says he is working with other middle-class clubs to try to thwart UEFA’s plans to give teams two places based on their record in Europe for five years if they fail to qualify. thanks to its results in the national leagues.
Slots for two teams, based on accumulated UEFA coefficient points, are planned for 2024, when the Champions League introduces a new format and expands from 32 to 36 teams.
“If you participate in the Champions League, your coefficient is higher and higher and the store closes more,” Hellman said in a video call on Monday. “So I don’t think that should be the right requirement to participate in European competitions. I would be more open to other leagues and other clubs, and the national ranking is therefore the most important door to keep open.”
Eintracht is one of the teams in Germany overshadowed by the dominance of a Bayern Munich enriched by Champions League revenues and loaded with European success. But they are preparing for their second Europa League semi-final in four seasons, on Thursday against England’s West Ham.
Hellman is working to safeguard that the smaller domestic leagues have access to European cups, to ensure that the distribution of UEFA prize money and television revenues are better balanced between competitions, and to ensure that financial sustainability is rigorously guarded.
For Hellman, enforcement of the rules is important to bring balance to European competitions, rather than tilting them further in favor of powerhouse teams, many of which tried unsuccessfully to pull out and form a Super League a year ago.
“The other alternative will be clear if we don’t do this to some degree, we’ll have our own monster,” Hellman said. “Champions League clubs will generate more and more, and one day they will try to get into the Super League because it is their only chance to meet their capital needs. And that is something we have to avoid,” he added.
“This is why, together with some other clubs, I am very convinced of the initiative to strengthen the interests of European middle-class clubs,” he added.
It includes teams like yours, Eintracht, a regular participant in European competitions in recent seasons. The team reached the 1960 European Cup final, losing to a Real Madrid team including Ferenc Puskás and Alfredo Di Stéfano, before some 130,000 fans, and won the UEFA Cup, the precursor to the Europa League, by beating Borussia Monchengladbach in the 1980 final.
If Eintracht, currently ninth in the Bundesliga, beat West Ham in the two-leg tie and then win the Europa League final, they will qualify for the Champions League.
“I think the difference between the Europa League and the Champions League is too big, the difference is too big,” Hellman said. “What I am not in favor of is building step by step, a closed store that only generates profits on itself.”