It seems that most of the 12 teams thought they could continue playing in their domestic leagues as well as the new ESL next year, but it seems to brush over an obvious flaw.
Coaches and players will go nuts if they often have to play two games in a week and they throw their toys out of the pram on a regular basis due to scheduling, so how was adding more games to the pot going to help that?
Of course the ESL was all about money so player safety is only important if there’s threat of a financial impact, and it doesn’t sound like Man City star Ilkay Gundogan is that impressed with the ESL or the new UCL reforms either:
The UCL format right now works great and that is why it's the most popular club competition in the world – for us players and for the fans.
— Ilkay Gündogan (@IlkayGuendogan) April 22, 2021
UEFA have tried to spin this as an expanded competition that allows more teams the chance to compete, but it’s essentially a way to do all they can to ensure the same teams qualify for the competition every single year.
Again that comes back to revenue, and there’s a sad irony in the “Champions League” becoming even more closed off to actual champions of their country, while average performances in the bigger leagues will be rewarded and the gap will keep on growing.
Gundogan makes a point that the current format is liked by players and fans, but it’s likely this plays into UEFA’s favour as scrutiny will be placed on the ESL clubs instead and this will largely go under the radar until it’s too late.