The Times are reporting this morning that UEFA are considering making huge changes to the format of the Champions League, which would include playing games on weekends.
Extraordinarily, the Champions League is being left behind by the Premier League, following the latter's five billion pound TV deal with Sky and BT, with the League's appeal to broader horizons among the reasons for its massive success. UEFA are now targeting that market by moving games to weekends in a move that the Premier League reportedly regard as "unthinkable".
UEFA are planning on playing two or three rounds of the competition at weekends as the times are more amenable to supporters in the Far East. It is thought these games would be either group games or latter stage knockout games, possibly the quarter-finals or semi-finals. Any changes are still at least five years away.
A source at a major European club told the Times that:
It is definitely under consideration because the only way to increase Champions League revenues is to offer the product in a different time zone. How to deal with the leagues is the problem. But you have the example already in England with the FA Cup played on certain weekends and Premier League matches on weekdays. If all the clubs believe it is a good idea then it can happen.
“To many people it seems a wise attempt to have a much more interesting product in parts of the world that currently have games in the middle of the night — if you give them prime time events then revenues will increase.”
The Premier League believes there has been a steady creep in the demands of the Champions League and will oppose any move to the weekends.
Anything that interferes with the Premier League will be fiercely opposed by the league, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.