‘Important’ clubs should be given Champions League wildcard, argues Milan director

Milan director claims that bigger clubs should be allowed to play in the Champions League.

Milan director Umberto Gandini believes wildcards should be introduced to the Champions League ensure that some ‘important’ clubs do not miss out.

In Italy, which used to have four clubs competing regularly in the competition, the top two sides go straight into the Champions League, with the third going into the play-offs.

“I think we have to look at ways of improving the Champions League,” Gandini told BBC World Service.

“I would like to see opportunities for wildcards or different routes for clubs who have the ability, the prestige or the size to compete in the Champions League.

Although, if they had the ability to compete, surely they would have qualified for the competition in the first place.

Manchester United and Milan, were among past winners of the Champions League, who are not competing in this season’s competition after finishing seventh and eighth in their respective leagues.

“Look at Italy for example, every year you have two teams qualifying directly and one to the play-offs, but you have Juventus, Milan, Inter, Roma, Napoli, Fiorentina and Lazio trying to play for the top three spots,” Gandini said.

“In England now you have Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool trying to qualify for the top four.

Well, Liverpool have managed it once in the last five yeas so let’s not make too much of a summer out of that particular swallow.

“Every year one two or three miss out and either play in the Europa League or have to go without European football, Gandini added”

“Today we play a competition with 32 clubs, every season you have a fantastic run by underdogs who, say, get to the quarter finals. This is good for football.

“On the other hand there are more and more important clubs – important because of history and size – that miss out.”

And that is exactly the way it should be. In sport, status or wealth should count for nothing. The clue is in the name: it is a competition, not a closed shop.