Amongst many changes, the beginning of this season’s UEFA Champions League and Europa League has seen the introduction of earlier kick off times.
Rather than the traditional 7:45pm start, matches will be split into 5:55pm and 8pm timeslots, allowing fans to watch more matches and broadcasters to capitalise on their investments.
It is no surprise that since the election of Gianni Infantino as FIFA President and Aleksander Ceferin as UEFA President in 2016, UEFA have been changing the European football landscape.
Kick off times are just one aspect of the game that have been impacted.
The adjustment to the UCL group stage for the 2018/19 season adds to the modification of European football. The winners of the Champions League & Europa League from the previous season now qualify directly for the competition, while champions from the top six European leagues (based on their coefficient ranking) are also automatically allocated a Pot 1 place in the draw.
Eyebrows were raised as Lokomotiv Moscow entered the recent UCL draw as a Pot 1 club on the back of their Russian Premier League heroics, with that competition currently occupying sixth place in European league rankings. Had it not been for that, Lokomotiv would have been alongside Young Boys, Viktoria Plzeň and co in Pot 4.
Internationally, the implementation of the UEFA Nations League is another example of UEFA’s desire for modernisation. The competition allows countries to face others at similar levels, reducing the amount of insignificant friendlies, while enhancing the international spectacle.
Euro 2020 will be played in 12 different countries across Europe, marking a break from tradition, with single and dual bids no longer the norm. An array of cities will have the chance to host Europe’s largest event and unite the continent as one.
Despite all the scrutiny UEFA have received in recent seasons, this revolution to European football is a sign that the sport is progressing in Europe.