UEFA president Platini delays Champions League changes after protests

UEFA president Michel Platini has agreed to postpone by a month a decision on sweeping changes to the Champions League after opposition from leagues and clubs.

Platini today unveiled his plans to reserve four places in the group phase of Europe's top club competition for domestic cup winners from 2009.

A final decision had been due to be taken by UEFA's executive committee on September 27 but clubs' and leagues' representatives asked for more time to present other proposals.

Under Platini's plan, England, Spain and Italy would have three teams qualifying automatically for the Champions League group stage via their domestic league and their cup winners entering a parallel qualifying competition.

Currently each have the top two teams going straight into the group stage and the next two going through a qualifying round.

Platini presented his proposals in Monaco today to the new Professional Football Strategy Council, made up of representatives of UEFA, the clubs, the leagues and players' unions.

He told a media briefing afterwards: "We are not changing the format of the Champions League, there is no question of that.

"There are lots of advantages in the current system but under the new system six more countries will be represented in the Champions League and we will go from nine champions to 16.

"Those who win should play rather than those who are richer or have better media rights.

"It will also mean a very significant enhancement of the domestic cups."

Platini also outlined several other changes he would like to see made to the final of the Champions League from 2009.

He said: "I would like to see 75% of the stadium being reserved for fans.

"After the final in Athens I would like to see the Champions League final played at a weekend. I was very, very disappointed that there were no children in the stadium - on a Wednesday night families do not have the time and if it was on a Saturday then children and families could come.

"I also want the final in future to be in a big, modern stadium with a capacity of about 75,000 people. There is always vast demand for tickets, and people come without tickets and that creates a security problem."

UEFA are also planning to revamp the UEFA Cup so that it mirrors the format of the Champions League more closely. Under the proposals, the Intertoto Cup would be scrapped.

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