bbye Champions League. The most successful club competition in the world is in its final phase, at least in the form that we have known it for twenty years. The premier category with 32 teams divided into eight groups of four teams each, of which the 16 best participants advance to the knockout phase, is now a thing of the past. Starting next season, the number of participants will increase to 36 and the group stage will be transformed into a league stage in which each club is guaranteed eight matches against eight different opponents (four home and away matches each) instead of the previous six. Games against three teams.

Millions of fans and many clubs only have a vague idea of ​​how this enormous change with one hundred more games will be received sportingly, emotionally and economically. But it is already evident that this new format, which will last until the 2026/27 season, could only be a brief interlude.

At least since The European Court of Justice (CJEU) issued its sensational ruling on the Super League a few days before Christmas – about what consequences associations and clubs are currently becoming clear about – one thing is already clear: in an extremely dynamic economic, sporting and geopolitical environment, club football is facing turbulence such as has occurred since the founding of the European Cup, the predecessor of the Champions League, never experienced in 1955. Since the ECJ confirmed the monopoly claim European Football Union (UEFA) showed the red card, the motto is: Nothing is impossible in club football anymore.

Test for source of income

Concretely, this means that the new form of the Champions League could already be a model of yesterday, even before the first ball rolls in the new mode. What's more: the Champions League, UEFA's cash cow, faces its biggest test overall. And with it UEFA, guardian of the grail of the premier category. According to the Luxembourg ruling, clubs can not only give their opinion on changes or the creation of new formats, but they can also block and give their opinion.

But also the developers of the Super LeagueThose who celebrate the judge's verdict could end up becoming victims of their own judicial success. Because when the noise of the battle between UEFA and A 22 gradually fades away, professional clubs and their representatives realize: when two people argue, the third is happy. And those are themselves.

Look me in the eyes: FIFA boss Gianni Infantino gets into position.

Look me in the eyes: FIFA boss Gianni Infantino gets into position.

Image: Witters

Furthermore, another player who almost no one expected until now, but who can also emerge victorious in the fight for European sinecure in club football, has positioned himself in the background: International Football Association (FIFA) with its cunning and unscrupulous president Gianni Infantino at the helm.

But first things first: the ruling turned the football pyramid upside down. Until now, football has been organized in a hierarchical, almost absolutist way, with FIFA at the top of the pyramid, including the various continental associations such as UEFA. This is followed by national associations like that. German Football Association and the German Football League, responsible for the professionals. The base of the pyramid is the professional clubs. Without them nothing works, but until now they have had little to say internationally. This is currently changing with the ruling – fundamentally.