The fear behind Champions League’s ‘turning point’ and football’s trepidation in 2024

Many might say an “unusual concern” perfectly describes the prospect of England finally winning a tournament. Gareth Southgate’s side are seen as the likely Euro 2024 winners by the majority of the field, at least outside of France.

A New Frontier

It’s a sense of expectation, rather than just optimism, that is new even for this manager’s time. That’s partly because England have something new in the team’s modern history in a player like Jude Bellingham.

The Champions League Change

There are more big games between big clubs, more guaranteed income and it will also seek to solve the problem of the dead rubbers that have characterised this season’s campaign. Europe’s premier competition will expand to 36 clubs after a quarter-century of a symmetrical 32, similarly changing the nature of the entire opening round.

A Potential Turning Point

“If it works really well, then the Super League is dead in the water,” the French executive explains. “If it doesn’t work well, then some people will try to come back and implement the Super League. So, for me, it’s a turning point in the history of European football.”

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A Challenging Future

The politics around it could be considerably influenced by the outcome of another battle. The Premier League case against Manchester City for alleged breaches of Financial Fair Play rules is viewed as a potential extinction-level event for football as it currently stands, due to the immense strength of feeling.

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A New Legacy

Pep Guardiola similarly aims to make them just the second to retain the modern Champions League while winning a personal record-equalling fourth – level with Carlo Ancelotti, whose Real Madrid side could represent the toughest competition for the Cityzens.

Complex Balancing Act

It has nevertheless got to the point where the European Union and even Fifa are getting concerned about decreasing competitiveness in football. European ministers will meet on 10 January to start discussing the idea of a model of sport for the continent. Fifa are now actively looking at ways to make the game more balanced, with everything from a salary cap to transfer restrictions now on the table.

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International Levels

There’s an irony to that, since international football has increasingly represented a relief from football’s own issues. That isn’t just because England are aiming to win their first trophy in 58 years or that it is the first self-contained tournament not held in an autocracy since 2016, coming as it is in Germany as opposed to Russia or Qatar.