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UEFA have a good day at the office – James Calvert

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UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin was adamant that merit needs to be at the forefront of taking part in all European competitions. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

I don’t very often get the opportunity to praise UEFA – generally they don’t do very much I agree with – but when they deserve credit let it not be said I didn’t give it to them. And, frankly, they deserve considerable praise for the way they have handled the expansion of the Champions League. Let’s forget for a minute whether you agree that the competition should grow from 32 teams to 36. I am personally in favour of it, but I understand those who think the extra teams and the extra games may devalue the contest. However, to me what was more important than the expansion itself was where those extra four teams were coming from. The original idea was that two of those places would go to teams who didn’t qualify for the competition but who had a successful history in Europe. So, it wouldn’t matter how crap they currently are, the fact that they were good in the past would grant them passage to the continent’s top competition. And that was fundamentally wrong. It would have destroyed the entire concept of sporting merit. But, announcing that the expansion would come into effect from the 2024/25 season, UEFA said that idea had been scrapped, and instead the four new places would be...

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