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UEFA in controversial plan to scrap away goals from Champions League

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UEFA have greenlit a controversial plan to scrap the away goals rule in the Champions League and Europa League from next season, in a historic change to the format.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

That is clearly not an adage UEFA subscribes to, as beneath the cloud of the proposed and universally maligned Super League lie plans to expand the current Champions League into a new beast.

From 2024/25, 36 teams will enter Europe’s top-tier tournament, with a league format replacing the current group stage as clubs will play 10 times before progressing to the knockout stage.

An increase in games – four more per season – has been flagged by players and fans as an unnecessary evil, hidden in plain sight, and remains a contentious point following its announcement by UEFA.

UEFA are looking to implement further changes, too, with the Times reporting that European football’s governing body is looking to get rid of the away goals rule from next season.

MADRID, SPAIN - Tuesday, April 6, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after his side's only goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg game between Real Madird CF and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano. (Pic by Propaganda)

The rule has been in place since 1965, and has influenced a number of Liverpool’s knockout ties over the years – with their hopes of progressing at the expense of Real Madrid in the quarter-finals this season clinging to a first-leg goal scored in Madrid.

This decision “now needs to be approved by UEFA’s executive committee,” but the use of neutral venues this season has seen UEFA’s proposal “win key support from European football’s administrators.”

It has proven controversial among supporters and those within the game alike, however, with Jamie Carragher among those to criticise to plan:

There is a case to argue that scrapping the away goals rule in extra time could be a sensible course of action, as it effectively hands the away side an unfair advantage.

But as many have pointed out, to remove it entirely detracts from the appeal of European knockout ties, and in reality will hinder the smaller sides even more.

That seems to be the way football is moving as an institution, as though the Super League may be dead, there is still plenty to be concerned about with the new Champions League.

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