Champions League Change is New UEFA President’s Priority

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New President Aleksander Ceferin said insisted wednesday that UEFA must show Europe’s big clubs who is in charge as he made Champions League reforms his first priority.

Ceferin, 48, yesterday defeated Michael van Praag 42-13 in the poll to become the new head of European football’s governing body.

UEFA and European clubs last month agreed changes to the Champions League, which critics said favour bigger clubs.

Slovenian Ceferin said his organisation should show the clubs “we are the ones who are the governing body”.

Under the reforms announced last month, Europe’s top four domestic leagues will be guaranteed four places each in the group stages of the Champions League from 2018-19.

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), which represents the continent’s 24 domestic football leagues, called on UEFA to scrap the proposals, claiming national leagues will suffer.
“It will be the first thing to deal with,” said Ceferin, who succeeds Michel Platini following his resignation after being banned from all football activity last year.

“UEFA is a very good, strong organisation. It was without leadership for some time and that was a problem dealing with this.

“We have to speak and have dialogue with the clubs and I think it can be solved.”
Ceferin, who has been the head of the Football Association of Slovenia since 2011, takes on the remainder of Platini’s term of office, until 2019.

The lawyer said Financial Fair Play rules – introduced, in UEFA’s words, to “improve the overall financial health of European club football” – should be enforced more strongly.
He added there was “a lot of work to do”, citing match-fixing, security and safety, and racism as issues to address.

England’s Football Association last week declared its support for Van Praag, who – unlike Ceferin – is a member of UEFA’s executive committee.

The Scottish Football Association said it would vote for the Slovenian.
After the vote, FA Chairman Greg Clarke said he was happy to work with Ceferin, and welcomed his clear mandate.