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.
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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.
“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?