Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and others in opposition against the new Champions League reforms have been told to “adapt” their wages if they wish for things to stay the same.
In a week that witnessed the formation and subsequent collapse of the European Super League, UEFA managed to push through changes to the Champions League which proposes an increase of teams from 32 to 36, with the group stages replaced by a single league format before the knockouts.
That will increase the number of games for each team, something Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan rallied against in a post on Twitter.
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‘With all the Super League stuff going on… can we please also speak about the new Champions League format?’ he wrote.
‘More and more and more games, is no one thinking about us players? The new UCL format is just the lesser of the two evils in comparison to the Super League…’
Guardiola, his manager, vocalised similar concerns on Friday.
“Deja vu – every time it’s the same,” he said. “All the managers and players ask for better quality and the football world goes for quantity.
“But we are not in charge of that. We have to ask UEFA and FIFA to extend the year, maybe have 400 days a year. Maybe then they can find a solution on that!
“Listen, I’m not an expert about the format of the Champions League. But always (when) we demand, all the managers, to reduce the calendar, have more time to recover the players to enjoy our profession, they do the opposite.
“Of course there will be more injuries. At the end of the day the players play because they love to play, but the injuries come. UEFA knows that, of course they know it. Do they care? Absolutely not.”
Liverpool boss Klopp said much the same when asked.
“Ten games rather than six and no idea where to put them in,” he said. “The only people who never get asked are the coaches, the players and the supporters.
“UEFA didn’t ask us, the Super League didn’t ask us. It’s just always ‘play more games’. The new Champions League, what’s the reason for that? Money… I have no idea how we’re supposed to deal with even more games.
“You can’t have 20 teams in a league, two cup competitions, 10 international games before Christmas,” Klopp added. “These things aren’t possible.”
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has welcomed any alternative ideas, suggesting that the competition could remain as it is as long as players and managers accept a pay cut.
“Some coaches and players said too many matches,” Ceferin told the Mail on Sunday.
“There can always be less matches but also the salaries of the players and coaches have to adapt. You cannot generate less and earn more all the time.
“I read some people saying: ‘We don’t want more matches.’ I’m fine with that, really, I am. If the Champions League stays as it is, it will still be the best competition in the world.
“Our reforms came about because clubs need help responding to the financial crisis. We can carry on as we are but clubs will go out of business. And who does that hurt most? Their fans.
“So, while I understand what some people are saying, I’d ask them, ‘What is your solution?’ We believe the reforms we are making have advantages for everyone.
“But we have been clear they are not fully set in stone so, if those people have better ideas that safeguard the future of football as well as ours, I will listen.”
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