European leagues open hostilities over Champions League changes



European football leagues on Friday suspended an accord with UEFA in protest at reforms to the Champions League which gives greater power to major clubs.

By freezing the memorandum of understanding the 25 championships can now organise their own league games on the same day as Champions League matches.

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) is furious at UEFA’s reforms agreed in September which guaranteed four Champions League places to England, Spain, Italy and Germany from 2018. It also changed the prize money shareout.

“There is no other option but to terminate the currant MOU,” EPFL president Lars-Christer Olsson told a press conference after a meeting of the body.

Twenty-two of the 23 leagues present at the meeting voted for the suspension which will last until March 15 next year, Olsson, head of Sweden’s professional league, said. Italy’s Serie A voted against.

“This will give us and UEFA sufficient time to negotiate,” Olsson added.

Olsson said he is to meet the new UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin in the second half of November.

No league has yet announced that it will hold matches on Champions League days, but EPFL officials said each country was free to decide its own action.

Many European leagues complain that the Champions League has been turned into a “closed party” and that the prize changes will increase the wealth gap between the continent’s major clubs and the rest.

“It is about preserving the basic values that football fans love,” said Claus Thomsen, chief executive of Denmark’s league.

“Some clubs are making so much money that you don’t have a competitive balance anymore in your own championship,” said Claudius Schafer, chief executive of the Swiss Football League.

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