IS AN EXPANDED CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ON THE WAY?
Get ready because it is coming. Or that is at least what we are meant to believe and with the mooted plans for an expanded Champions League getting even closer to being rubber-stamped, it is English football which will arguably feel the biggest pinch.
For all the talk of fixture congestion within the English calendar, it seems as if by 2024 things are going to get a whole lot worse and when you consider that the EFL Cup is already on something of a lifeline, by then it could be on life support.
Because should the Champions League expand to 36 teams as planned, that will mean four more midweek matchdays to fit into an already crammed schedule and if something must give, then the EFL Cup is in the line of fire.
Already the preserve of much rotation and even derision at times, it is hard to fathom a scenario when the biggest teams within England take it any more seriously than they are now and with more big money continental action to contest, this will become even less of a priority.
To the point where the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and their remaining “Big Six” counterparts will take part in the competition in name only and in doing so, will send out even more of their academy prospects.
Of course, we have already seen a glimpse into a worrying dystopian future for the EFL, as Liverpool had to split themselves in half last season and with the senior pros competing for the FIFA Club World Cup, it turned out the kids were not alright.
A thumping defeat to Aston Villa in the end, although a result that was considered nothing more than collateral damage as Jurgen Klopp and his more trusted squad members, ended coming out on top in Qatar.
Perhaps the teams in the middle of the Premier League’s band of 20, will feel the largest pinch of all and for the likes of Crystal Palace and Southampton, they will only fear that the gap between the have and the have-nots will increase in size.
While although such expansion wards off the threat of a European Super League. For the two teams above, it may make more sense for the giants to tread their own path and leave everyone else behind.
How much distortion will an enlarged Champions League create? We will not know the answer to that question for a couple more years. However, if history has taught us anything, sometimes things are better left alone.
Does European club football’s premier competition really need another four clubs inserted into it? You would have to say perhaps not and the way that they will be added onto proceedings, is also something rather unpalatable.
Because with the mention of wild-card entries being added into the mix, we are edging closer away from qualification on sporting merit and as soon as more protectionism enters the beautiful game, it will only start to lose its good looks.