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UEFA announce silly new seeding system for Champions League group stage draw

Harold Cunningham

Considering that UEFA base just about everything on the all-important coefficient points that they assign to every team and every member football association, it's absolutely baffling that they've decided to partially ignore it when determining the seedings for the Champions League group stage draw.

The system's never been perfect -- just ask Manchester City or Borussia Dortmund -- but at least it was consistently imperfect across all applications of it.  The rolling five-year calculations for the coefficients rewarded the uniform, Arsenal-esque repeat mild successes rather than the one-off, more shooting star qualities of BVB and City campaigns, keeping the former firmly in Pot 1, while relegating the latter to Pots 2 and even 3.  But it also ensured that consistent, excellent performers like Chelsea or Barcelona or Real Madrid stayed ranked at the very top as far as continental competitions were concerned.

All that is set to change starting next season.

The "top 7" leagues are determined by... wait for it... UEFA coefficients!  The same coefficients that were deemed no longer suitable for uniform application to all teams instead, only to the non-winners of the top 7 leagues and any team from outside the top 7 leagues.  Or something.  Silly is as silly does.

So what does this mean for Chelsea?  Basically, despite being easily to most successful English team in Europe in recent times, we would only be in Pot 1 if we also win the Premier League.  And even if we win the league and get the seedings reward, we will always have the specter of a group stage involving either Real Madrid or Barcelona hanging over our heads.  Sure, Manchester City have faced a similar conundrum over the last few years, but their European achievements pale in comparison with ours so I find it hard to be sympathetic.

Overall, the new system will spread the strong teams out over the top two pots (weaker Pot 1, stronger Pot 2 than today), pitting them against each other a lot earlier than the knockout stages.  It also increases the chances of supergroups (i.e. "Groups of Death") and really bad or boring groups at the same time.  I'm sure the sponsors and the TV people are just ecstatic beyond their wildest dreams over all that.

Here's how this season's seedings would've looked like, as illustrated over at the mothership.  (Teams in bold have been promoted one or two groups; teams in italics have been relegated.)

POT 1: Real Madrid (as holders); Atletico Madrid; Bayern Munich; Manchester City; Paris Saint-Germain; Benfica; Juventus; CSKA Moscow

POT 2: Barcelona; Chelsea; Arsenal; Porto; Schalke 04; Borussia Dortmund; Shakhtar Donetsk; Basel

POT 3: Zenit Saint Petersburg; Bayer Leverkusen; Olympiacos; Ajax; Liverpool; Sporting; Galatasaray; Athletic Bilbao

POT 4 (unchanged): Anderlecht; Roma; APOEL; BATE; Ludogorets Razgrad; Maribor; Monaco; Malmo

All other draw rules still apply (restrictions based on leagues and TV coverage), so it won't be a free-for-all.  But right now, this looks like a pretty silly change, rewarding the non-existent achievements of a few (especially Russia) and punishing the very real successes of many.

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