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Aberdeen chief executive Alan Burrows: Scottish football needs to act

Dons chief executive calls on SPFL clubs to come together to future-proof the domestic game against expanding European football.

Aberdeen FC chief executive Alan Burrows
Aberdeen FC chief executive Alan Burrows is pictured at Pittodrie,. Photo by SNS.

Aberdeen chief executive Alan Burrows has urged clubs in Scottish football to rally together to protect the game from UEFA’s increasing efforts at expanding the European calendar.

With the Champions League due to expand from 32 to 36 clubs from 2024 as part of a revamp of the competition from its current group stage element to a single league structure, participating clubs will play eight games, an increase on the current six-match set-up.

Similar reconstruction of the Europa and Conference Leagues are also being considered for 2024 while Europe’s governing body is expected to extend the new format further from 2027.

The changing of European football is a direct response from UEFA to ward off the threat of a proposed breakaway super league by leading clubs.

Burrows believes Scottish clubs need to be proactive domestically in ensuring they can meet the growing European commitments in the years ahead.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Burrows said: “European football is going to change dramatically in the next four or five years.

“We are heading towards 2024 and we need to plan further in advance.

“This isn’t Aberdeen policy, it’s my personal opinion. But for me it is inevitable that Scottish football will have to start thinking outside the box on the changes that are coming.

“Our top clubs could be playing 15, 16 games in Europe so we can’t have two cup competitions and a league that splits to accommodate 38 games.

“It’s just not possible and UEFA are not going to allow it to be the case.

“This is coming down the road whether we like it or not.

“We can either sit here and close our eyes and hope it’s not going to happen or we can have a grown-up conversation.

“Let’s have it now. How do we thrive under that situation, how do we start making plans for it?”

Dons chief executive encouraged by clubs finding common ground

Aberdeen chief executive Alan Burrows. Image: Shutterstock.

The resolution of the dispute between Rangers and the SPFL over the four-league sponsorship deal with cinch is a welcome step towards a harmonious future for the member clubs and Burrows believes the time is right to consider what changes need to be made.

He said: ‘The league and Scottish football are far stronger when the clubs are harmonious and pulling in the same direction.

“Fighting, disharmony and vitriol helps no one. Neither does constantly washing dirty laundry in public.

“We are a big fan of that in Scotland. We love a drama. I get that Scottish football sells itself on tribalism but hopefully this outbreak of peace will allow us to move forward.

“We need to look at innovation in the game, watching the trends and changes and making sure we are at the front end of that.

“You can never do all those things when you are looking inwardly and fighting each other. We need to stop doing that.

“Hopefully, as peace breaks, we can look towards the future.”

League reconstruction looms large

Could the four-times-a-season Old Firm fixture be threatened by UEFA? Image: SNS

One option could be to end the League Cup but Burrows believes clubs will want to retain the cup competition.

That leaves league reconstruction as the only other alternative but the Dons chief executive knows the current broadcast deal with Sky which provides four guaranteed games a season between Celtic and Rangers is a considerable stumbling block.

However, with UEFA’s competitions taking precedence Burrows believes it is crucial clubs assess all potential options proactively.

He said: “I can’t see many people wanting to ditch the League Cup because it’s a short competition and it gives clubs a chance of winning something.

“So at some point in the future we are going to have to play fewer domestic league games.

“There’s two ways to do that. You can shorten the league (to 10 teams) but that will give you 36 games which isn’t doing much.

“Or you can have a bigger league and play each other twice.

“That’s not a silver bullet either, because every club is then going to lose at least one match of their category A matches against Celtic and Rangers.”