FRANCE invented the European Cup so it’s entirely fitting that one of their own summed up what that competition and the game as a whole means even in these times.

“The objective of football is to give happiness to fans, and to give happiness is to have a chance of winning.”

It’s a good line from Bernard Caiazzo, the owner of St Étienne, who reacted to the leak of a proposal put to UEFA by the European Club Association. If accepted, which they almost certainly will be, the current format of the Champions League and Europa League will dramatically change.

This has everything to do with money, and we are talking billions; a reluctance from Europe’s elite to allow clubs from smaller leagues, the Scottish Premiership for example, to share in the income generated by the group stage of football’s biggest club tournament.

Or greed, if we are to sum it up in a word. The happiness of any fan outside England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France is not up for consideration. In theory, and most likely practice, what this will mean for our clubs is more games but less money and prestige.

And with a third completion also likely, it could be that Aberdeen, Hibernia and the rest would find it easier to qualify for the group stage and that would give them at least seven home European matches.

The proposals are as follows. That 24 of the 32 teams in the 2024-25 group stage would retain their lucrative places the next season regardless of where they finish in national domestic leagues.

This would create eight-team groups kicking off in August, and narrow the entry path for teams from winners of lower-ranking leagues.

The system would guarantee at least 14 Champions League games instead of the current six for each club, earning them tens of millions of pounds in extra revenue from broadcasting and sponsor deals struck by UEFA.

The 16-team knockout stage would be retained made up of the top four in the eight-team four groups with the bottom two teams in every eight-team group effectively ‘relegated’ out of the competition. They would be replaced by the four Europa League semi-finalists who would be promoted.

Only four qualifying places – and this is where the biggest arguments will arise - would be left for national champions competing in preliminary rounds. That would be Scotland. It’s currently six cut down from ten.

In theory, again, the Scottish champions would have far less opportunity of reaching the Champions League given the lack of places available and strength competition for the four qualifying spots. However, they would then fall into the Europa League, which would have more games as it would take the same form as the Europa League.

And a top four place gets you to the last 16.

Three competitions. One for only the biggest countries and will be worth billions. A second which is for teams from smaller leagues, ironically this would include Ajax, with money to be made but not anywhere nearly as much.

As for the third tournament, who knows what this will actually look like? There will be 64 teams with promotion and relegation.

Of course, there would be still be an opportunity for one of our sides to qualify through four rounds and reach the promised land.

Let’s say Celtic are still the dominant force and somehow get themselves in with the big boys. If Rangers and the rest find the financial gap at the moment unpalatable, the 2014 Celtic could be earning the same as all the others put together.

Good for Celtic, lousy for domestic competition.

“Football without the finance is nothing,” as Jock Stein almost said.

UEFA could still kibosh their plans. Peter Lawwell has a voice, along with his counterparts from Ajax, Anderlecht, Sporting Lisbon etc, but it’s almost impossible to see this not happening.

English clubs now make too much money. The likes of AC Milan can’t compete with Leicester City in terms of wages and fees. It’s why such a plan was devised.

Put simply, the luck of geography, not what a football club actually does, is more important. Size matters when it comes to television income. It won’t make the European Cup better. It will make those invited to the party a lot richer. That’s all the matters.

If there is a Qatari royal family member with a penchant of Scottish football, now is the time to move before that shop door closes.