This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Frank Lampard has voiced his concerns over the proposed Champions League reforms, which would see an increase to the number of group stage matches.
Andrea Agnelli, the chairman of Italian giants Juventus and the president of the European Club Association, wants to bring change to Europe’s premier club competition by 2024. Instead of eight groups of four, he has proposed four groups of eight, which means that each team in the tournament would play a minimum of 14 games instead of six as it currently stands.
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Chelsea manager Lampard, though, does not agree with the plans, and has said he would like to see the format remain in its current state. He explained: “As a manager I actually feel weight of games more than I did as a player, even though I was running around as a player. As a manager you’re thinking about how can you keep the team fresh, and it’s a challenge with all the competitions we have now.
“If you ask me can we play more European games, I personally don’t believe you can fit them in amongst our busy schedule.
“I would find it hard to keep the quality level and the freshness within the players. If you did do that there would be a lot of discussion about how that would work practically.
“At the minute I think the level is about right. I like the format personally.”
This proposed switch up of the Champions League is huge. As it stands, the most games any team can play is 13 matches. That number would already be passed in just the group stages itself, and there would then likely be another seven games on top as well for those who reach the final.
As such, the Premier League clubs that qualify, for example, would play a minimum of 54 matches in a season. And that is not including F.A Cup and League Cup matches, and other games such as the Community Shield or an appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup, like Liverpool will do this year.
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Of course, it does not take a genius to work out the motive behind these proposals: money. The Champions League is a cash cow. The tournament currently generates €3billion (£2.59billion) every season, with UEFA taking home €500m (£431.7m) of that. Imagine if the amount of games were more than doubled? You would be looking at over a €1billion (£863.4m), at the very least, and the clubs themselves would be large beneficiaries too.
But what about the players? When it comes to these kind of discussions, their well-being is very rarely taken into consideration. Yes, they are professional athletes, and are paid handsomely. But they are still humans. Including international breaks and tournaments, it would not be beyond the realms of possibility to see some players featuring close to 100 times a season. The amount of wear and tear that could cause for a player would only increase the potential for burnout, and would likely reduce the overall quality in the process.
For once, someone needs to think of those who actually play the game. If not, the sport as we now know it may one day be no more.