Take-Off Time For The New-Style UEFA Women’s Champions League
This season’s new-look UEFA Women’s Champions League sees 12 debutants as well as a new route to the final, and teams are being urged to consider travelling by air charter to ensure Covid safety.
The tournament revamp is already making headlines and could see a dramatic change in the way women’s teams travel abroad.
Chapman Freeborn Airchartering has reported an increase in enquiries from clubs wanting to charter aircraft to ensure their players and staff arrive safely and securely.
Nick Lamb, Group Sports Director at Chapman Freeborn, said: “This is a trend we have already identified over the last year and which looks to likely gather pace as the new-style Champions League take shape.
“There are many factors behind the trend. Prize money and sponsorship are increasing in women’s sport, meaning clubs which may have travelled by scheduled airline in the past, or even overland by coach, are now looking to upgrade.
“In addition, some of the biggest clubs in the world which haven’t fielded women’s teams before are now doing so. This year’s UEFA Women’s Champions League includes Real Madrid, AC Milan, Hoffenheim, Bordeaux and Celtic for the first time.
“These are big clubs who are used to sending their men’s teams to European matches by air charter – and will look to do the same for their women’s sides.”
The Covid-19 pandemic is also a driving force for a change in the way that women’s teams travel.
It has encouraged clubs to consider ways of travelling which are more Covid-secure.
Nick added: “Travelling as a bubble on your own aircraft, with very little contact required with the public at either end, is the safest way to travel. In fact, it was compulsory for teams competing in the men’s Euro 2020 tournament this summer.
“We’ve also seen that the demand for men’s and women’s teams to be treated equally is growing fast and will only increase further. Big clubs are waking up to the fact that they cannot send their men in luxury and then ask their women’s teams to take a long-distance coach or mix with the public at airport check-in.”
It all adds up to a fascinating new season, especially as the innovative new format begins to unfurl. The teams have been split into two different paths to the final. The Champions Path and the League Path.
The action has already begun with knockout mini-tournaments in each path, leading to a final on 21 August, with overall winners progressing to Round 2, where they are joined by teams who have been given direct entry to this stage.
The sides lucky enough to win Round 2 then find themselves in the Group Stage alongside champions Barcelona, PSG, Bayern Munich and Chelsea.
Nick said: “What’s noticeable is that matches are played right across the continent, from Scotland to Israel and France to Georgia, with teams and supporters travelling huge distances until the final is staged on Sunday 22 May.
“With teams travelling long distances it is more vital than ever for clubs to consider how best to get their players there quickly and safely.”
Dates to look out for:
First leg: 31 August/1 September
Second leg: 8/9 September
5/6 October, 13/14 October, 9/10 November, 17-18 November/8/9 December, 15/16 December
First leg: 22/23 March
Second leg; 30/31 March
First leg: 23/24 April
Second leg: 30 April/1 May
22 May (Turin)
For more information visit www.chapmanfreeborn.aero