Yesterday Michel Platini announced that UEFA were in discussions to scrap the Europa League competition in favour of a tumescent Champions League tournament instead.
"We're discussing it. We will make a decision in 2014. Nothing is decided yet," he told the French press. "There is an ongoing debate to determine what form the European competitions will have between 2015 and 2018."
The fact is that the Europa League has always inspired different opinions over its relevance to the European footballing community. The gruelling schedule, lack of prize and endless mid-week away trips to far-flung corners of the continent led Harry Redknapp to famously call the competition a 'killer' and 'nightmare' for any team who succeeded.
Reports have widely circulated that UEFA are planning for the competition to be cancelled, with 64 teams to enter the Champions League knock out stages, but is this really the best way to take teams that weren't quite good enough for the Champions League forward?
IBTimes UK looks at some alternatives that might solve the problems in the seemingly unsolvable problem that is the Europa League.
Make it knockout competition
A knock out competition would take away the need for teams to play so many games and have their seasons so adversely affected. Currently, the group stages of the Europa League consist of 48 teams, and this comes from three qualifying rounds of 54, 80 and 70 teams respectively. In the 2011-12 season, Fulham had to start playing on 30 June, just a month after the Premier League season had finished.
Should teams be rated according to coefficients, in the same way that they are rated for the qualifying rounds in the first place, with teams playing knock out matches rather than any group stages, it would at least add an excitement factor and eliminate the feeling that the competition is an endless treadmill.
Adding the notion of the Europa League winners qualifying for the Champions League
Part of the reason why the Champions League is such a sought-after competition is that it is so lucrative, from the TV rights to those attending, to the sponsorship opportunities and the ability to land players who want to showcase their skills in Europe as well England. If the Europa League can't provide any more money than it currently does - the current prize money for the winner is hardly enough to buy a top Championship player in England - why not put the carrot in front of clubs' noses to take a Champions League spot if they win?
The likes of Tottenham and Liverpool would certainly take the competition a lot more seriously if this was the case. Obviously there are logistics involved in working out how an extra team can enter the qualifying stages of the Champions League, but that's where UEFA's boffins come in right?
Scrap the Seedings
While this wouldn't solve the problem of schedules and lack of prize winning incentives, it would at least make the games somewhat more exciting. A free-for-all competition could see Spanish, English and other higher-tier teams going at each other early on, and at least giving the viewers a taste of some exciting match-ups early on while at the moment, the group stages are often a mismatch with teams from the top leagues easing past cannon fodder from weaker competitions.
Elongate the qualifying stage for the Champions League, not the group stage of the competition
More of an adjustment than an alternative to Platini's plan. Rather than making the Champions League any bigger from the group stages, UEFA could make the qualification process longer to include Europa League sides. This may sound difficult on first inspection but if teams can start playing on June 30 like Fulham did a season ago, surely they could play a knock out situation to get down to the 32 teams for the group stage? Then the exciting part of the Champions League isn't foregone, and the qualifying stage could in fact be much more exciting.
Scrap it entirely?
The best teams don't want the Europa League because they have more important and lucrative things to worry about; the smaller teams may find it to be exciting, but whose interests are more important? Setting up a new competition for teams who don't have, and aren't fighting for, places in the Champions League and want to participate in European football might be the only way forward. UEFA really want to shake this PR image that leaves many managers, fans and footballers feeling negative about participating in a competition that is supposed to be second only to the Champions League - and doing that might mean having to create a whole new competition entirely.