UEFA have new developments in the pipeline for the Women’s Champions League 2021/22 and they will certainly have a positive impact on the Barclays FA WSL teams, bringing more competition to the top of the League.
News about the possible re-introduction of a group stage and an extension to the number of teams qualifying for the tournament for the top nations has been received positively by clubs and fans.
At the end of the day, no club wants to miss out on the biggest and most prestigious club football tournament in the world. Having only two teams per country for the top 12 association always left out big clubs. For example, Chelsea missed out this season with Arsenal and City finishing in the top two places.
You would certainly expect the top four countries to benefit from an upgrade from two to three spots. Those countries definitely have enough depth to put a competitive third-placed team in the tournament. For example former tournament winners, Turbine Potsdam, or Frankfurt in Germany. In France Bordeaux, Montpellier or PFC. In England, Chelsea or Man United and in Sweden Rosengard would definitely make a good addition to the Women’s Champions League.
For the countries ranked 5 to 12, there is a question mark if they need to go from two to three teams. These are Spain, Denmark, Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Scotland and Austria. Do they have enough depth to get a third team in? Then you wonder which country would get an increase from one to two teams.
A group stage of 16 teams would allow every qualified team to have six games, raising revenue and the women’s team profiles. It would also remove the luck of the draw from the current system which saw Juventus playing Barcelona in the first round or Chelsea playing Wolfsburg in round 1 & 2 in their first two seasons in the tournament.
This would obviously benefit the big teams, and you certainly wonder how many places in the final 16 would be open to qualifiers and how many would be reserved for the top 4 countries. For example, you would not want the 12 teams from the top 4 to go through the group stage, otherwise it would be just a closed league for rich teams.
The top two teams from the best countries through to the group stages and the third teams going to qualification would make sense.
There is also a question mark on qualifying rounds as well. There are 62 teams this season, so we are talking about adding another four teams. Should all 55 associations bring a team in, and the top four get three teams, that would mean 71 teams involved overall and maybe 63 involved in qualification.
If you add a group stage to the tournament, it means more dates need to be found for all those games and the international calendar cannot be extended. So you wonder how they will find those new dates and put them into an already congested calendar.
However, it is a welcomed development by UEFA. Fans have been waiting for years for it to happen, but this reform needs to be done the right way. Otherwise, it will just make it more congested and more difficult for the players who are not machines.