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Tougher qualifiers for Champions League big guns


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Tougher qualifiers for Champions League big guns


UEFA was on collision course with Europe's top clubs last night after threatening radical change to the Champions League qualification process.

In a controversial move aimed at addressing the way revenue is being dominated by an elite few, UEFA President, Michel Platini, is planning to limit the number of group places available to top clubs in England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France.

At present, the Premiership's third and fourth-placed teams can expect an untroubled passage into the group stages against inferior opposition in the qualifying round.

Under proposals being considered by UEFA chiefs, teams from the five leading nations would be drawn against one another in an attempt to free up places for smaller clubs, thus possibly ensuring that wealth is distributed more widely.

"Some of the big clubs are earning more from the Champions League than their own domestic competition," said UEFA Vice-President, Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder.

"These are huge amounts and while the clubs concerned might not like it, we want to take some of that money away. We want a fairer way of doing things and I know Michel Platini is thinking along the same lines for reforming the qualification procedure.

"The TV contract for the Champions League runs out in two years and that is when we could possibly end the current system of the big names always facing a small club.

"Maybe we will see the fourth team from England or Spain playing the third team from Germany. I know they will probably be against it, but to my mind, it would bring justice to the competition.

"At the moment, it is always the same clubs in the groups, the same clubs raking in all the money. That is not good for the game because in each of those countries, you have a few clubs getting richer all the time, a few risking bankruptcy trying to catch up and the others just happy to survive."

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