CELTIC have given their backing to a new proposal that would require fewer matches to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League, according to reports.

The "Copenhagen Access Model" - named after the Danish club who have submitted the plan - would still see the top four leagues of England, Spain, Germany and Italy retain their four places in Europe's top club competition, but would likely strip some clubs of a guaranteed place in the group stage.

Under the proposed format, as reported by The Athletic, all 79 clubs that have qualified from the tournament would be ranked in an "entry list" based on European results over the previous 10 years, with the top 20 qualifying directly for the 32-team group stage.

The following 12 clubs would enter in the play-off round, the next dozen in the third qualifying round, the next 13 in the second and the remaining 22 would enter at the first round of qualifiers.

Celtic have reportedly shown their support to the revised model alongside Dutch champions Ajax, who reached the semi-finals last season.

Had the suggested shake-up to the format been implemented this season, Neil Lennon's side would have entered the qualification process at the third round - the same point where they were knocked out by Cluj earlier in the campaign.


In such a scenario, five clubs who had to compete in the play-off round - Ajax, Dynamo Kiev, Olympiakos, Porto and PSV Eindhoven - would have been guaranteed a group-stage berth. Of the quintet, only Ajax and Olympiakos qualified for the Champions League proper.

It is believed that the "Copenhagen Access Model" would primarily benefit European regulars from medium-sized leagues, while lower-ranked sides from Europe's top divisions - such as the Premier League or the Bundesliga - would lose out.

If Leicester City, for instance, qualified for next season's Champions League then they would enter in the first or second round of qualifiers under the proposal - the stage where the Scottish champions currently join in the tournament.

The Athletic report that the proposed restructuring is "gathering support" across the continent as clubs from outside the 'Big Five' leagues search for a model that allows them to compete with the mega-riches on offer in European domestic football's wealthiest divisions.

Supporters of the "Copenhagen Access Model" believe it will create "stability" for European regulars from smaller leagues, will go some way to addressing the financial imbalance across the continent and will give clubs outside the 'Big Five' a "chance to dream".