There’s the old saying that if something isn’t broke you don’t fix it, but UEFA couldn’t resist meddling in the format of their European competitions.
From the start of the 2021/22 season, the advantage of away goals in both the Europa League and Champions League competitions will be a thing of the past.
Despite the rule being a staple in European competition since 1965, UEFA chief, Aleksander Ceferin, has decided that both competitions needed a boost, and so has attempted to explain why he’s changed things around.
“The away goals rule has been an intrinsic part of UEFA competitions since it was introduced in 1965,” he was quoted as saying by talkSPORT.
“However, the question of its abolition has been debated at various UEFA meetings over the last few years.
“Although there was no unanimity of views, many coaches, fans and other football stakeholders have questioned its fairness and have expressed a preference for the rule to be abolished.
“The impact of the rule now runs counter to its original purpose as, in fact, it now dissuades home teams – especially in first legs – from attacking, because they fear conceding a goal that would give their opponents a crucial advantage.
“There is also criticism of the unfairness, especially in extra time, of obliging the home team to score twice when the away team has scored.
“It is fair to say that home advantage is nowadays no longer as significant as it once was.
“Taking into consideration the consistency across Europe in terms of styles of play, and many different factors which have led to a decline in home advantage, the UEFA Executive Committee has taken the correct decision in adopting the view that it is no longer appropriate for an away goal to carry more weight than one scored at home.”
Whatever justification Ceferin is trying to use, the fact remains that the ruling has worked perfectly well for over half a century.
Whether we will see any difference in terms of how teams approach games now, compared to a more attacking style in their away games in order to earn an advantage, will only be known once the competitions get back underway.
Another own goal for UEFA incoming?