UEFA is set to implement a radical shake-up of Champions League seedings in time for next season.
The General Secretary of UEFA Gianni Infantino said in London that the holders, alongside the league champions from UEFA’s seven top-ranked nations, will be placed in pot one for the 2014-15 competition.
Teams are currently seeded based on their UEFA coefficient, which depends on performances in the Champions League and Europa League rather than domestic competitions.
On that basis, Spain had three pot one teams for the group stage draw this season, in holders Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletico Madrid, while England had two with Chelsea and Arsenal, as did Portugal with Benfica and Porto, while the German giants Bayern Munich made up the eight.
The change of policy has been agreed on the basis on “sporting merit”, according to Infantino.
It could mean some of the biggest and historically most successful clubs in Europe clashing as early as the group stages.
Infantino said on Sky Sports News: “It will be ratified later on by the Executive Committee but it’s a clear recommendation of the club competition’s committee that the seeding system changes in this respect as from next season.
“People had difficulties in understanding how the champion of a country is in a lower pot than the third-ranked in that country.
“This will give another dynamic with the draw and in the way the groups are composed. It will be approved with the regulations at the start of next year. “The c lub committee felt that there should be somehow an additional award given to the winners of the different national competitions.”
The latest seeding rules will come as bad news for the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United, should they qualify for the Champions League but not win the Premier League or, in Arsenal’s case, not land the biggest prize in European football this season. Both clubs have previously enjoyed top-seed status due to their high Uefa coefficient.
Under the new rules, only the Premier League champions would go into pot one next season and Infantino insists rewarding success is the right thing to do. Infantino added: “Football is about winning, it’s about competition, it’s about sporting merit.
“I think it’s kind of a natural thing to give to those who have won a competition a special treatment like this.”