Europe’s top clubs warned lack of Uefa reform will ‘kill’ professional football in some countries

Professional football in some countries will die unless Uefa reforms its major competitions, Europe’s biggest clubs have been warned.

On Wednesday, the Premier League outlined its position that it did not believe change was necessary.

That stance was echoed in the closing statements at a two-day European Clubs’ Association meeting in Malta on Friday.

Others disagree, including HJK Helsinki president and ex-Crystal Palace player Aki Riihilahti, an ECA vice-chairman.

“If we continue as we are, professional football in countries like ours will become irrelevant and slowly die,” he said.

ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli, chairman of Juventus, said the two-day meeting was the start of a process that ‘would take months’.

Sources are adamant no specific proposals for changes to the Champions League are being worked on, even though it is widely assumed they involve three tiers of 32 teams, formed of four leagues of eight.

Such a concept would require an additional eight dates to be found in a major restructuring of the current international calendar and some of the bigger countries, including Spain and England, have questioned potential limits on the number of teams who could access each competition.

“It is a European competition. It must be played in as many as countries as possible,” said Ajax chief executive Edwin van der Sar. “How would it be good to allow the number five team in Spain and England to qualify before the champions of Turkey, Austria and Scotland?”

Premier League sources have said their own position in seeking a continuation of the current set-up is a unanimous one.

However, Agnelli said Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is sure a solution can be found.

“Ed has said, if we find the right balance, we can hit a growth in the market without detriment to the leagues. That is the objective we all have,” said Agnelli.

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