UEFA President Aleksandr Ceferin has given L’Équipe an interview in which he positions himself in favor of a “Final 4” to play the last matches of a Champions League season. The Slovenian leader plans to apply this format from 2024.
A month after the crisis experienced by UEFA due to the emergence of a Super League quickly nipped in the bud, Aleksandr Ceferin came out of this very trying streak strengthened. The president of the body which directs European football has managed to regain control by bringing the twelve secessionist clubs back into the fold of UEFA.
With this positive outcome, Ceferin sees himself taking advantage of this momentum to push for new projects. In an interview with L’Équipe, the Slovenian talks about the possibility of seeing a “final 4” emerge to play the last matches of the Champions League. An evolution already mentioned in recent days.
Last summer, the 2020 edition of the C1 ended with a “final 8”, organized in Lisbon from the quarter-finals due to the delay on the calendar with the coronavirus pandemic. The format of dry matches in one and the same stadium was popular, so much so that the idea of perpetuating it, from the semi-finals, has obviously gained ground.
Apply this “final 4” from 2024
“Personally, I would like it to be done. I am in favor of a ‘final 4’ in the Champions League. It could be great. And effective in terms of income if it is done well,” Ceferin told L ‘Team. The Slovenian leader confirmed that the project was in the works of UEFA: “We are discussing it, but it is not decided. (…) There is no urgency. We can decide that in a year.”
Because the idea would be to apply this new format from 2024, when the reform of the C1, very strongly criticized, will apply. “We liked the ‘final 8’ last year in Portugal. But a ‘final 8’ is over two weeks and that’s too much. For a ‘final 4’, after 2024, there are advantages and drawbacks, “says Ceferin.
“Everyone has to give their point of view”
On the perks side, “it can be a fantastic event with a football week complemented by other events like concerts.” Lisbon could not take advantage of the “side” during the “final 8” of last season because of the pandemic. But an organizing city would welcome the hosting of such an event which would bring together thousands of supporters.
On the downside, Ceferin evokes the fact of “losing matches, especially at home, for the clubs. The televisions would also have fewer meetings. There are financial and marketing questions to be managed.” Already at half mast for more than a year because of the closed doors, the ticketing revenues of the clubs used to participating in the last four of the C1 would take a hit. A home game organized by a club brings in several million euros in a sold-out stadium.
It therefore remains to weigh the pros and cons. And while the UEFA president himself has positioned himself in favor of such a format, there is no indication that the organization will adopt it. “Everyone has to give their point of view,” Ceferin told L’Équipe. But as the Slovenian indicates, the priority is not there. The proceedings against some of the clubs behind the Super League project seem to be the number one goal today.