UEFA’s executive will meet on Tuesday for a landmark summit set to shape the future of European football.
Radical Champions League reform has been on the cards for so long it became easy to write off as petty politics and posturing between the Continent’s top clubs and the powers-that-be in Nyon.
And while there has, undoubtedly, been plenty of hot air expended by club bosses and UEFA executives on the subject with varying degrees of believability, the prospect of change is now a reality.
The process has been slow, but the Champions League as we know is now on the verge of substantial – and hugely consequential – change.
In recent seasons, Scottish clubs have very much been mere observers of UEFA’s flagship tournament.
However, with the possibility of both Celtic and Rangers competing in next season’s group stage, the issue has become more relevant than ever.
The direction of travel in European football has been set for some time and it’s a path which has primarily benefited clubs in the “top five” leagues – England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France.
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While clubs from these countries, some finishing as low as fourth in their domestic leagues, have been granted free passes into the group stage, the likes of Celtic and Rangers have been presented with seemingly endless qualifying hoops to jump through.
Scotland’s coefficient has now improved to the point, although it took several years, where the Premiership champions are now automatic qualifiers. However, in years to come they could find themselves playing in a very different tournament to the one most fans know and love.
For example, UEFA, in their infinite wisdom, have looked at the breathtaking thrills and spills served up in the knockout stages in recent seasons and proposed that what’s needed is more group games.
One of the most prominent proposed changes would be a group stage that consists of 10 fixtures instead of six which, before anything else, has considerable implications for already-packed domestic schedules.
That’s just one of the issues on the agenda when the governing body’s top brass meet in Vienna tomorrow.
But perhaps of most interest to Scottish football fans is the debate on future qualification.
From 2024, the Champions League could welcome four extra clubs into the group stage and the debate there is likely to centre on who benefits from that.
There’s an argument in favour of reserving two places for leagues outside the big five, given how heavily those clubs already dominate the tournament.
But there’s another, powerfully backed, argument that all four places should be decided via club coefficient, which would lead to teams qualifying based on their Champions League performance over the past decade.
Now, a cynic might say this is just a safety net to ensure one of Europe’s elite having an aberrational campaign on the domestic front won’t cost them a place at Europe’s top table, but we couldn’t possibly comment.
There’s already a financial chasm between these leagues and the rest, one which Rangers have defied to reach this season’s Europa League Final.
But the system has long been designed in a way that makes such feats an exception to the rule, as evidenced by the increasingly familiar make-up of the Champions League’s latter stages.
Where these extra places are allocated will surely serve as a strong indicator on what UEFA see as football’s future.
Do they want to strike back against the push towards a European Super League which, despite a spectacular backlash to 2021’s attempted launch, hasn’t gone away?
Or will a repackaged Champions League simply continue the slow march towards it under the guise of compromise?
Celtic and Rangers, with the tournament very much back on their radar, will be watching on closely.