The richest clubs and biggest leagues in Europe are set to tighten their grip on the Champions League’s future format and prize money this week.
A deal being prepared by UEFA should end threats by some elite clubs to break away and form a closed European Super League before 2021.
However, it could ensure that more guaranteed places in the 32-team group stage and bigger shares of billion-dollar prize money each season will go to teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus from the four highest-ranked national leagues.
A series of meetings with clubs and UEFA executive committee members is expected to agree changes to entry slots for the 2018-2021 seasons.
In a statement, UEFA said that it ‘expects to announce the evolution’ of the Champions League at a news conference on Friday.
Italian clubs are looking to be the big winner. Serie A would offer four direct entries to the group stage, compared to two in the current format.
Spain, England and Germany would also benefit by ending the risk of its fourth-placed club losing in the playoff round each August.
Advancing through the playoffs is worth tens of millions of pounds as UEFA will share £1.1bn among the 32 group-stage clubs this season.
Changing the Champions League format is possible every three years.
It must be agreed before UEFA’s retained marketing agency can sell Champions League and Europa League rights to broadcasters and sponsors for the next cycle.
Benefits for Europe’s elite sides included more entries for the top leagues, bigger shares of the prize fund, protected places for storied clubs with a global fan base, and playing matches on Saturdays rather than midweek.
The new timetable should see the tournament’s immediate future settled before the UEFA presidential vote on September 14 to replace Platini.