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UEFA considers Champions League seeding change; Ferguson uninterested

Sep 5, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

Switzerland Soccer UEFA  Coaches Forum AP

As we told you last week, UEFA has considered changing its seeding structure to reward teams which win their domestic leagues, but has not yet decided whether to make a move after a “two-day UEFA meeting of top club coaches”.

Currently, the seeding is based off a club’s success in the last five cycles of UEFA Champions League play, something that has benefited clubs like Arsenal and Porto while hurting champions like Manchester City, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

[ RELATED: Champions League groups set ]

The meeting was chaired by  UEFA coaching ambassador Alex Ferguson. The former boss of Manchester United thinks it doesn’t matter where a club is seeded due to the depth of quality across Europe.

From the Associated Press:

“I don’t necessarily think the seeding plays a great part,” said Ferguson, a two-time Champions League winner with Manchester United.

In last week’s draw, Man City was drawn into a group with Bundesliga winner Bayern Munich, and Juventus got Spanish champion Atletico Madrid. PSG’s group includes top-seeded Barcelona.

Still, Ferguson believes the depth of some groups in this season’s draw means there is little difference in quality.

“You take what you get and your performance is the most important thing,” said Ferguson, who led former clubs Aberdeen and Man United to win a combined four European club competitions. “Does it matter if one is the top seed or second seed or third seed?”

The review comes after last week’s UEFA Champions League group draw left several reigning clubs in difficult spots and some lesser performers with easier paths to the knockout rounds.

To be honest, it feels like Ferguson is full of baloney and would be up-in-arms if his club were in the positions of his noisy neighbors; Manchester City is in a group with No.1 seed Bayern Munich, No. 3 CSKA Moscow and No. 4 Roma instead of dodging Bayern altogether by being a No.1 seed.

If the UCL seeding continues to be based on UCL success, it behooves a team to focus on the competition rather than a weekend matchup in league play. For the ‘good’ of UEFA, it makes sense to keep the system in place, but — and a big but — is there any question that Porto and Benfica sitting as No. 1 seeds is a tad unfair, and will perpetuate their standing? Portugal is the fifth-ranked UEFA nation but has two spots in the top 8, while Germany (third) has one team and Italy (fourth) was blanked.

But while Man City faces a tough draw, so does Arsenal. The Gunners are the main non-Portuguese beneficiaries of the current seeding, as they haven’t placed higher than third in the Premier League since 2005 yet continue earning Pot I status.

A change to the seeding process seems like a good idea. What do you think?

  1. Greg - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Coefficients, they want top penalise Arsenal for being consistently successful in the competition they’re drawn in? Sorry, but if Man City want in the big pot 1, they need to wait for Mancini’s crash and burn UCL season to be wiped off their slate in a few years time. Champions of national leagues has meant nothing to UEFA since the Champions League was opened up to more than just the Champions some 15 years ago.

    • Nicholas Mendola - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      It’s a bit of “chicken or egg”, though, right? Arsenal hasn’t finished higher than 4th since 2005, and it would have extra reason to perform better domestically if UCL prominence factored into the equation. Obviously they are trying to do well in both competitions, but a point here or there makes a difference when Bendtner and Gnabry are starting against Palace because Giroud and Sagna are needed for Tuesday in France?

      • Greg - Sep 5, 2014 at 12:13 PM

        Arsenal still qualify, it’s what they do, and when they do they progress from the groups, only Real Madrid have been as consistent over time. Does it matter how they get there? Its still UEFA looking to change 15 years of relative UEFA related happiness just because the big spenders like Man City and PSG aren’t in pot 1 when their recent history in the competition isn’t as steady as 4th placed Arsenal. FWIW, PSG getting to QF stages last few times will push them up next season. Liverpool will have to be a lot more consistent, as does Man City, and Juve are still dealing with their group stage exit and non qualification in years past.

  2. lewpuls - Sep 5, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Whining from teams that buy domestic championships.

    Consider Arsenal’s draw of Napoli, Dortmund, Marseilles recently. Hardly beneficial despite the pot 1 location.

  3. geejon - Sep 5, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    So the newly proposed system would have a team in a 1-horse domestic league like Olympiakos basically guaranteed a #1 seed for eternity? That doesn’t make much sense.

    • Nicholas Mendola - Sep 5, 2014 at 2:43 PM

      Greece is the 12th-ranked league in Europe, and their coefficient is far lower than even the ninth-league. This year the first pot would’ve been Atletico, PSG, Bayern, Juventus, Man City, Shakhtar, CSKA Moscow and Benfica. Theoretically, Real would make it as the returning champ, knocking out CSKA Moscow. So really, you lose Porto, Barca, Chelsea and Arsenal for Juve, City, Shakhtar and PSG. Let’s see who goes further. I’m open to you being correct.

      • geejon - Sep 5, 2014 at 5:10 PM

        Got it.

        Thanks for the reply.

  4. mazblast - Sep 5, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    The former Man U boss favors keeping a system that works against Man City. There’s a surprise.

    That aside, the system isn’t so broken that it needs fixing yet. I’m sure that when and if Man U gets back in the Champions League, “Sir” Alex will demand a change that amazingly and strictly coincidentally will put Man U in Pot 1.

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