PREM clubs have been reassured there are no firm plans to strip them of the fourth automatic Champions League place.

Top flight clubs were caught off-guard when Lars Christer Olsson, head of the European Leagues umbrella group which includes the Prem, suggested reverting to just three guaranteed slots for the major nations.

 European Leagues wants to work with the Prem to agree common principles to go forward


European Leagues wants to work with the Prem to agree common principles to go forwardCredit: AFP or licensors

Olsson is a key player in the strategy to stop the competition revamp planned by the European Clubs Association, which aims to expand the Champions League to up to 21 matches.

But Swede Olsson’s idea was not welcomed by Prem chiefs, who made immediate contact with European Leagues to voice their concerns.

It is understood the Prem told Olsson it was “surprised and disappointed” by the proposal, which would come into effect from the 2024-25 season.

This is just the second season in which the four most successful leagues have been given four automatic slots, rather than the fourth team having to qualify for the group phase through a play-off round.

The Prem’s initiative appears to have brought an immediate back-track from European Leagues, which is hosting its General Assembly meeting in London on Thursday.

European Leagues responded by promising the Prem that there are no “concrete proposals” at this stage.

Instead, European Leagues wants to work with the Prem and the other major leagues to agree common principles to go forward, rather than specific ideas.

That response appears to have satisfied the League ahead of this week’s meeting, which will also see representatives from fan groups and the international players’ union FIFPro in attendance and speaking.

Olsson’s other idea, to scrap the “historical co-efficient” element of Champions League revenues – worth £27m to Chelsea and £90m in total to the four English clubs taking part – is understood to be less contentious.

While the Big Six are able to benefit from the extra income if they qualify, they recognise that any expansion of the Champions League would have a negative effect on Prem income levels going forward.

One of the major issues in European football is the failure of Uefa to implement a wider spread of cash across the continent.

But if the majority of the £525m annual “historical” payment figure was instead used for “solidarity payments” to the smaller nations, that would significantly eliminate the push for radical changes in the competition format.

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