UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has admitted that the single-leg format used in the knockout rounds of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League could return in the future although it could only be used for semi-finals. The current two-game format is contractually locked until 2024-25, but talks will begin later this year over whether to amend the tournament. With COVID-19 restrictions forcing all football to grind to a halt, this year’s competition was concluded in Lisbon from the quarter-final stage in August.
Ceferin said people inside and outside of football had contacted him to say they were “extremely excited” by the final eight formats that abandoned the home-and-away two-legged quarter-finals and semi-finals. I have to say that this system of one match seems more interesting to me than the other system with two-legged matches,” Ceferin said.
“There has been not so much tactic. If it is one match if one team scores then the other has to score as soon as possible. If it is a two-legged system then there is still time to win the next match. More exciting matches for sure but of course we also have to think about the fact that we have fewer matches and broadcasters [can] say: ‘you don’t have as many matches as before, this is different’ so we will have to discuss when this crazy situation ends.”
With the drama that the newly adopted system for the completion of this year’s edition served up, it is not hard to see why Ceferin and co are considering retaining it as the new Champions League format. Ceferin is not concerned that removing the number of knockout games could have a significant financial impact on UEFA.
Even though you have fewer matches, the value can be higher if promoted properly”, he added. “I see my friends from football and out of football calling me and texting me and they are all extremely excited about this system. Not so much tactic.”