Champions League: Uefa president says final could move outside of Europe

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Champions League: Uefa president says final could move outside of Europe

The Champions League final could be played outside of Europe, says new Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin.

The Slovenian will revive an open bidding process to host the final, and is open to it being staged in New York.

“It might be an idea but we have to speak about it,” said Ceferin, who was named head of European football’s governing body last month.

The 61 finals have all been held in Europe but Ceferin said travel to the US would be “no problem” for fans.

He added: “To go from Portugal to Azerbaijan for example is almost the same or the same as if you go to New York.

“It’s a European competition so let’s think about it.”

As it stands, Uefa awards the finals without any tendering process, with stadium hosts decided in secret by the leadership.

“The bidding process should be very clear because if you get the Champions League finals or Europa League finals as a political favour then it’s not OK,” Ceferin said.

The former Slovenian Football Association chief said he would not sacrifice the competition’s success by changing kick-off times, usually 19:45 BST, to suit worldwide markets.

“From a financial point of view it’s not ideal,” Ceferin said. “We should think also about other markets, but how to do it exactly I’m not sure yet.

“China is financially interesting and the US is not just financially interesting, but football is growing there.”

The Champions League final has been played on a Saturday since 2010 and is the competition’s only game not played in midweek.

Ceferin said one idea to increase viewers would be to also move the semi-finals to a weekend.

“There are some ideas about that – China is not asleep because it’s Saturday and they can watch,” he said.

“But there are many problems concerning that with the calendar of the leagues.

“National leagues are too important. You have the Premier League which is very strong.”

North Atlantic League ‘a bad but absolutely necessary’ idea

The North Atlantic League – a proposed alternative to the Champions League involving teams from smaller European nations – is getting closer to reality because of Uefa’s mismanagement of the European game, says the chief executive of the Danish Superliga.

A reorganisation of the Champions League means Europe’s top four leagues are guaranteed four places each in the tournament from 2018-19.

That move has prompted Europe’s smaller league to investigate whether it would make more financial sense to commit to an independent breakaway competition.

“The consideration in the Danish league will be what provides the most value to Danish football, and if Uefa doesn’t change its decision, it may very well be the Atlantic League that provides the most value,” Claus Thomsen told BBC World Service’s World Football show.

“I think it is basically a bad idea, but I think it is an absolutely necessary idea if Uefa leaves the principle of sporting merits being the basic value of European football.

“It is a serious option. Uefa should get back to being for the good of football and I sincerely hope they do so.”

Former Scottish Football Association chief executive Gordon Smith believes Celtic and Rangers – Scotland’s two biggest clubs – are receptive to joining a breakaway competition.

“I think they are keen on this idea. They are definitely involved in the discussions,” he said.

“They see the fact that the money coming in for Scottish clubs is very low compared to across the border in England and the gulf is going to grow.”