UEFA have announced a confirmation that the eight seeds for Pot 1 in next years Champions League will be the champions of the biggest seven leagues along with the Champions League winner.
Currently that would be Spain, England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, France and the Ukraine with Russia in 8th and Netherlands in 9th. If the winner of the Champions League is also a domestic champion then the eighth spot would go to the 8th placed country (Russia).
Noted TV pundits ESPN have rushed into online print to breathlessly announce that these changes will shake up the competition and will negatively affect teams like Arsenal, and Manchester United who are routinely part of the top seeds even if not actually winning the league.
(see http://www.espnfc.com/uefa-champions-league/story/2412898/arsenal-man-united-city-may-suffer-champions-league-seeding )
But will it really? I don't think so.
While the general idea is fine - that domestic champions earn a spot in "Pot 1" - there is little doubt that Pot 1 will be weakened by the smaller leagues and indeed there is a reasonable argument to be made that Pot 2 will actually be the strongest pot.
On current standings Pot 2 is likely to contain sides like Real Madrid (#1 ranked), Manchester United (6), Atletico Madrid (7), Valencia (8), Arsenal (9), Porto (10) , AC Milan (11) and Olympique Lyon (12). That's a powerful group.
Meanwhile Pot 1 might contain teams like Paris St Germain (17), Benfica (5), Shakhtar Donetsk (18), Zenit Saint Petersburg (21) and/or PSV Eindhoven (29). They might all be domestic champions - but it is NOT the strongest group.
Take a look at Pot 2. Who is the easy draw there? Nowhere. Now look at Pot 1 and you can see the weak links in the new scheme. I think that we will see that under this "politically correct" format that Pot 2 is actually the best place to qualify, and the best/easiest draws will be received by a Pot 2 team that gets to meet an "easy" Pot 1 side.
We have seen a similar situation in recent World Cup Finals draws where the host is elevated to a #1 seed that is not deserved and provides for a mis-matched draw that does little. Until UEFA removes country restrictions to really open up the draw then this change is little more than ego stroking window dressing about Pot numbers. The same teams will continue to progress.
That being said I'm not against the rule - it MIGHT mix up the draws a little bit - just not as much as people think ... and let's be quite clear that Pot 1 is no longer the TOP pot under this system.
What do you think?
How would you set the draw up?