Manchester City could lose out on prize money with UEFA planning changes to how money is distributed, that like Financial Fair Play, appear to have been introduced to keep a group of elite and established clubs content.
With the constant threat of a breakaway European Super League, UEFA has again succumbed to pressure from top clubs by guaranteeing the four top-ranked leagues four automatic spots in the Champions League from 2018 to 2021.
According to The Times, the latest idea, agreed by both UEFA and the ECA (European Club Association), will see prize money distributed not by success or progress, but based on how many European trophies a club has won in the past.
This means that from 2018, when these new changes are introduced, the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool (assuming they qualify) would earn more than the likes of Manchester City, because those clubs have won the Champions League in the past.
As the most successful club in European history with eleven Champions League/European Cup trophies, Real Madrid would benefit more than anyone under a points system. Besides Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and United would be among the main beneficiaries.
Those behind the changes justify them by arguing that the Champions League brand has been built by the biggest clubs in the game so they should benefit more from the prize money.
These controversial changes, which could also be open to legal challenges, are not without opposition. The European Professional Football Leagues are threatening to ‘rip up’ an agreement that domestic games are not to be played at the same time as Champions League or Europa League matches.
According to the report, one of the architects is Manchester United director David Gill, who is also the deputy chairman of UEFA’s club competitions committee. This could be seen as a conflict of interest and may be pointed out if anyone challenged these changes in court.
For the likes of Manchester City, who briefly suffered from, but eventually overcame Financial Fair Play, UEFA’s previous attempt to keep some clubs happy, this would be another challenge, albeit not the severe obstacle that FFP was.