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Uefa's plans for the Champions League just not fair: SPFL chief

By Matt Slater

Neil Doncaster has added Scottish opposition to Champions League changes after the group that represents European leagues hit out at the reforms.

The European Professional Football Leagues accused Uefa of breaching the terms of the deal that governs European club competitions over plans to guarantee 16 teams from the four top leagues half of the places in the Champions League group stages.

The EPFL claimed the reforms of the Champions and Europa leagues were "without the support and consensus'' from domestic leagues and one of its members, the Scottish league, agreed. The champions route, which Celtic used to qualify for this season's group stages, is set to be open to four teams from 2018 instead of the current five.

SPFL chief executive Doncaster said: "Notwithstanding the welcome retention of a route to the Champions League for the SPFL's Ladbrokes Premiership winners, we absolutely share the EPFL's disappointment about the regressive and protectionist direction for the world's most prestigious club competition.

"There needs to be a stronger balance between sporting merit and commercial pressures, otherwise we risk an inexorable slide towards an NFL-style closed-shop system. We know many of our counterparts in other countries share our concerns about the nature of the decision-making process and the lack of consultation with European leagues.

"Uefa have a duty to act on behalf of the entire game, not just a few select clubs and leagues, and it must take that duty far more seriously if they are not to risk presiding over a harmful fragmentation of the game.

"We will continue to be robust and forthright when required in fighting to protect the best interests of Scottish football."

Uefa's acting general secretary, Theodore Theodoridis, said: "The evolution of Uefa's club competitions is the result of a wide-ranging consultative process involving all European football's stakeholders, including the European Professional Leagues.

"The amendments made will continue to ensure qualification based on sporting merit."

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