FINANCIAL expert Nigel Hibbert believes that an enlarged Champions League could have a major impact on Everton and Liverpool’s European aspirations.
Hibbert, a partner at the Liverpool branch of Cheviot Asset Management, one of the UK’s largest independently owned discretionary investment firms, said: “My first thought is that clearly this is a major opportunity for Everton and Liverpool to get back in the big league.
“Going off last season, their on-the-field records were considerably short of the mark when it comes to qualifying for the Champions League.
“They were 13 points (Everton) and 17 points (Liverpool) behind fourth place – which wasn’t enough to get in anyway with Chelsea taking Tottenham’s spot!
“The halcyon days of Liverpool conquering Europe on a routine basis, or even the penalty shoot-out win in Istanbul, must seem a long way off now.”
However, Hibbert reckons that UEFA are taking a gamble with sponsors by risking “dumbing down the Champions League” through dramatically increasing the number of participants.
He said: “Money talks, especially at this level of football but expanding the Champions League while scrapping the Europa League would be a gamble.
“Currently, the Champions League is bringing in about £1billion a year for UEFA while the Europa League provides around £225million.
“Running the numbers, UEFA may think that one big Champions League might be even more lucrative but will the sponsors agree?
“Of course more clubs would mean spreading the financial pot more thinly and the established European super-powers are going to want guarantees that their own revenues don’t suffer as a consequence.
“The people at the top already won’t allow it to be voted through unless guaranteed funds are locked in.”