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UEFA set to approve new Champions League format at April meeting

Lausanne (AFP) – An official announcement on planned radical changes to the format of the UEFA Champions League from 2024 onwards is set to be made on April 19, European football’s governing body said on Tuesday.

Last week European Leagues, a body representing the interests of clubs and leagues in 30 countries across the continent, said UEFA would make a decision on the expected changes at a meeting this Wednesday.

UEFA confirmed it will discuss plans at this week’s meeting of its executive committee but will wait for the next one before finalising the changes.

“The future of club competitions post-2024 will be one of the topics discussed,” UEFA said in a statement.

“However, any official decision in this respect will only be made at the next UEFA executive committee meeting on April 19, in order to finalise ongoing discussions.”

The April 19 meeting is also set to see UEFA confirm how it will organise the delayed Euro 2020, which is due to go ahead in 12 cities spread across the continent but could be modified depending on what venues allow spectators to attend games during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the Champions League changes — which are expected to be radical — will dominate discussions.

The changes are expected to increase the number of clubs involved in the group stage from the current 32 to 36.

The existing group-stage format, consisting of eight groups of four teams, will be completely shaken up.

In its place, UEFA is expected to introduce a single pool and a format known as the ‘Swiss system’, which will see teams playing 10 games instead of the current six.

No team will face anyone else more than once in a system more commonly used in chess.

The teams finishing in the top eight positions of the single pool will advance to the last 16, with the bottom 12 eliminated.

Meanwhile, the sides finishing between ninth and 24th place will go on to play two-legged play-off ties to decide the final eight slots in the knockout phase.

The knock-out stages will then proceed in the same manner as now, but the changes will mean a large increase in the number of matches played, with a team reaching the final playing a minimum of 17 matches compared to 13 in the present format.

The consequences are a huge increase in the overall number of games played, from 125 to 225, with the total number of group-stage matches jumping from 96 to 180.

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  1. Yespage

    March 31, 2021 at 10:30 am

    Ivan, I doubt this would change things up for the Round of 16. By expanding games played, it is much more likely the same ole – same ole will make it to the Round of 16. The current group setup at least gives a smaller squad a chance to make it out.

    Increasing the games is just getting nuts for managing Domestic League schedules which are already super-saturated. And I agree, this is a test run towards stripping the top Domestic Clubs permanently for a super Euro league.

  2. JP

    March 30, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    Just had to look up what he Swiss system is. So does this mean outside of the 1st match teams won’t know who they play next until their previous match it completed and new pairings can be arranged based on point totals?

    Seems unnecessarily complex when group stages have done a good job of weeding out the teams worthy of advancing to the last 16 very well.

    If the case, also bad for fans who may want to make plans far in advance to attend

  3. Ivan

    March 30, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    Champions League group stage has been boring and predictable for years. The same 12-13 teams make the playoff round every single year.

    However, letting in teams in the CL based on past history as opposed to merit is ridiculous and insulting.

    But, you know, UEFA has been pushing for a European Super League for years now (or rather, the big clubs have) and this is one step closer to that. The likes of Steaua, Czvena Zvezda, Mehelen, etc. will never even get a sniff of European glory. It’s about those with money and those with more money. Modern football is disgusting.

  4. Hashim

    March 30, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    UEFA falling into the “more games = more money” trap

  5. Michael F

    March 30, 2021 at 4:59 pm

    This is a terrible new model, if you like the importance of domestic league play for the top spots. One needs to read between the lines and understand where this is going. Not at all good for the sport and it’s tradition. Only good for those rich clubs that want to get richer.

  6. Turfit

    March 30, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    I like the ideal of more teams in the Champion League, not sure about the “Swiss Model” ideal…….

  7. rkujay

    March 30, 2021 at 11:47 am

    Mr. Harris:
    Thanks for the article.

    Can participation trophies be far behind? C’mon, man.

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