Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish calls for Champions League to be STRIPPED from Uefa over reforms
Parish has been vocal in his opposition to proposed Champions League reforms, earlier this year calling European football’s governing body “the greatest enemy of domestic leagues that exist” and accusing them of creating a Super League “by stealth” with their expansion plans.
On Tuesday, Uefa ratified plans to increase the number of teams in the competition from 32 to 36, with each set to play eight group-stage games instead of six from 2024/25.
Plans to hand out two Champions League places to clubs based purely on past performance have been abandoned but there will be two additional places given to teams from the leagues who perform best in the previous season’s European competitions. Were it utilised for next season, the fifth-placed side in the Premier League would qualify.
“I would love Palace to finish fifth and get the Champions League,” Parish said. “But if you ask me honestly as a football person, is that what Uefa should be doing? Uefa to me should be spreading the game across Europe.
“It is all short-term gain and 'let's try and get as many of these clubs in so we can get the most broadcast money’, which for me is wrong. For me this tournament needs to be taken away from Uefa. We talk about an independent regulator over here overseeing everything, but European football needs somebody independent.”
The other two additional berths will see a third-place team from Uefa’s fifth-ranked league qualify directly for the group stage, along with the domestic champion of a lower-ranked league. Both, under the current format, would have to play a qualifier.
“I know they made a few more places available so finally the Ajaxs don't have to qualify in the summer and the nonsense of all that stuff, so okay I get it,” Parish added. “For the Premier League and maybe one day for Crystal Palace we will celebrate that, but I do have mixed feelings about it, because of the way it has arrived at that and I don't think it is for the right reasons.
“I don't think it is what Uefa should be about. They should be about broadening the appeal of the game, taking a long-term view, and trying to bring other countries into it so in the end the game is bigger across Europe and in the end they are getting a bigger television audience. For me it is all short-termish.”