Not enamoured with the idea of a Superleague, but as it’s come up often and looks like a possibility, I came up with the following system:
The competition will be sixteen clubs and in the first the participants would be the top sixteen ranked coefficient clubs. The league would replace the CL for those teams, though the CL would still run as usual for everyone else. More about that later. Teams would also participate in their domestic league.
The format would be as follows:
2 groups of 8 (seeded), playing each other twice (14 games – same as current CL).
The top 3 of each group enter playoffs at the end of the season. The playoffs would be conducted at a neutral “host” nation and the format would be:
Group winners get a bye to Semis.
Second placed team form Group A plays Third from B and vice-versa.
Group winner from Group A plays winner of “Group B 2nd vs Group A 3rd”.
Group winner from Group B plays winner of “Group A 2nd vs Group B 3rd”.
Final is self explanatory.
Now onto the juicy stuff – Relegation and Promotion!
To keep the league competitive, there would also be a pro/rel with a playoff which would work as follows:
Bottom team from each group is automatically relegated and replaced the following season with the UCL finalists.
Positions six and seven from each group would playoff in a system that would also contain the three highest coefficient clubs currently outside the SL and not already qualified via the UCL. The final playoff place would go to the the fourth placed coefficient team or Europa League winner if they are not already a coefficient top 4 team. If the latter is the case, they become the lowest ranked team.
The following playoff matches would then take place:
Lower Tier (the loser of these games are eliminated from the playoffs and will not be in the SL next season, winner goes to second game):
Playoff 1 – Better 7th Place vs Coeff 4th (or EL Winner)
Playoff 2 – Worse 7th Place vs Coeff 3rd
Upper Tier (the winner plays in SL next season, loser goes to second game)
Playoff 3 – Better 6th Place vs Coeff 2nd
Playoff 4 – Worse 6th Place vs Coeff 1st
Second Games (winner plays in SL next season, loser does not):
Playoff 1 Winner vs Playoff 3 Loser
Playoff 2 Winner vs Playoff 4 Loser
This relegation system basically means that the two better placed league teams and higher Coeffs effectively have two opportunities to win/retain their spot in next years SL. The worse two league and Coeff teams effectively have to win two games in a row to retain/keep their spots.
The Champions League:
The likely drop in sponsorship interest would be partially subsidised by the likely revenue made by UEFA from the Superleague, allowing the competition to remain a lucrative one. Qualification would remain the same, with the spots vacated by SL participants filtering down to the other teams in the league. Coefficients based on national performance in this and the Europa League would continue to determine # of entrants from each league. A team “relegated” from the SL would have to qualify for one of these comps as usual and meet the above criteria to gain entry back into the contest. I’m not sure best how to deal with these teams Coefficients ranking as freezing it while there in the SL might just result in them qualifying for SL promotional playoffs the following year. Maybe it should also be a requirement that entry to the promotional playoffs that year requires a certain position in the domestic league?
Domestic provisions – A team that qualifies for the SL playoffs could be playing 17 games in Europe a year. With this in mind, it might be worth easing “congestion” by either lowering the domestic leagues to no more than 18 teams, or having them enter the domestic cup two rounds later. Or maybe the SL could simply start around the time of qualifying for UCL and EL.
Domestic performance – The biggest potential issue with effectively running two leagues parallel, is the tendency to prioritise the more prestigious over the other. If Real Madrid are flying high in their SL group, what incentive do they have to field strong starting lineups in La Liga? With this in mind, participating clubs will be required to maintain a consistent standard within their domestic league. Similar to the coefficient, their domestic league position will be reviewed based on a 5 year average. If their average final position is lower than the top third (7th place in a league of 20), they will be disqualified and replaced by the club highest in the coefficients.
Logistical and financial viability – Clubs will be required to demonstrate the resources to participate in the SL, in terms of being able to afford travel, to accommodate visiting teams and to provide a safe and appropriate venue.
Coefficients post-relegation – A team will have its coefficient frozen upon promotion to the SL. However, as this might automatically make them immediately eligible for the promotion playoffs, the “coefficient route” will be frozen for the 3 seasons after relegation, so as to weight their total towards more recent results.
I think the above method would make for a competitive competition, with little chance of teams fielding weakend line-ups due to them all likely having something to play for throughout.
The “elite” would get their opportunity to play regular games against each other, while the domestic league should take little-to-no impact due to the schedule being similar to that of the CL.
The CL and UEFA Cup remain prestigious as not only are they a significant trophy, they grant access to the SL. The removal of the big dogs could also serve to make the CL a more diverse competition and may even give a few of the smaller teams some space to grow.