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UEFA unveil Champions League revamp

Vienna (AFP) – The European Champions League will see an increase of four teams to 36 and the present group stage replaced by one single league from the 2024/25 season, UEFA said on Tuesday.

The revamp of European football’s premier club competition will see each team play eight league games — four home and four away — as opposed to six in the group stage.

The top eight sides in the league will qualify automatically for the knockout stage, while the teams finishing in ninth to 24th place will compete in a two-legged play-off to secure their path to the last 16 of the competition.

“We are convinced that the format chosen strikes the right balance and that it will improve the competitive balance and generate solid revenues that can be distributed to clubs, leagues and into grassroots football across our continent,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

Ceferin and UEFA will be hoping the reforms — passed unanimously by their executive board — will kill off once and for all any thought of the rebel Super League making a reappearance.

Twelve of Europe’s biggest clubs signed up to the proposed new competition last April but it collapsed within days following a fierce backlash from their own players and fans, as well as governments and football’s governing bodies.

Nine clubs distanced themselves from the project but Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus remain on board with the concept.

UEFA had stepped back after consulting with various parties — including supporters — from having 10 league matches and allocating two of the four new places to teams based on club coefficient.

The four places will go to the club ranked third in the championship of the association in fifth position in the UEFA national association ranking.

Another will be awarded to a domestic champion by extending from four to five the number of clubs qualifying via the so-called ‘Champions Path’.

The final two places will go to the associations with the best collective performance by their clubs in the previous season (total number of points obtained divided by the number of participating clubs).

Those two associations if it had been judged on this season based on the collective performance of their clubs would be England and the Netherlands.

Similar format changes will also be applied to the UEFA Europa League (8 matches in the league stage) and UEFA Europa Conference League (6 matches in the league stage) and both will also include 36 teams in the league phase.

Ceferin revelled in the moment of succeeding in pushing through the reforms.

“I am really pleased that it was a unanimous decision of the UEFA Executive Committee, with the European Club Association, European Leagues and National Associations all agreeing with the proposal made,” said Ceferin.

“Another proof that European football is more united than ever.

“Qualification will thus remain purely based on sporting performance and the dream to participate will remain for all clubs.”

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  1. jason

    May 11, 2022 at 9:26 am

    This format is the dumbest thing I have ever seen. It has ruined the first half of the Champions league which is what I liked the best.

    I hope Europa and Conference League will stick to traditional groupings.

    • dave

      May 11, 2022 at 9:57 am

      @jason, per May 10 release regarding UCL on the UEFA website:
      “Similar format changes will also be applied to the UEFA Europa League (8 matches in the league stage) and UEFA Europa Conference League (6 matches in the league stage) and both will also include 36 teams in the league phase”
      “The eight matches of the UEFA Champions League will be played over the ten European weeks foreseen by the decision made in April 2021. The UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League will all enjoy one week of calendar exclusivity”

      • jason

        May 11, 2022 at 2:17 pm

        OMG…palm in face

  2. NashRambler

    May 10, 2022 at 1:38 pm

    A problem with the single table is not knowing which teams play each other without having to look up each team’s individual schedule. With 36 teams and 8 matches for each team why not 4 groups of 9 teams each. As it is with the current format we would easily see which teams are playing each other in the group stage.

  3. Yespage

    May 10, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    So is it a single table of 36 teams… and they play 8 games, and compare their standings? How does that make sense? Ignoring the whole issue of 36 teams and “Champions” starting to fall away from the title.

    • dave

      May 10, 2022 at 8:14 pm

      @Yespage, I believe this is mostly the Champions League format UEFA previously proposed for 2024-2025 and beyond. Through discussions, they made two key edits:
      * 8 group stage games (4 home, 4 away) per team rather than 10
      * No auto-bids for top clubs by coefficient that fail to qualify through regular means (extra slots instead go to countries based on historical success)
      The previous proposal was for UCL group stage to be a modified Swiss system – a single table of 36 teams, as you describe. If UEFA hew to previous plans, teams will be potted in to four groups of 9 based on club coefficient. Each team plays two teams from each pot including their own; teams from the same country cannot meet. Unlike a true Swiss system, schedules are set in advance rather than dynamic based on current win-loss records.
      While the AFP article is poor, it mostly mirrors language and descriptions in the UEFA release. Charitably, UEFA did not put their best writers on this one. Hopefully, they have good thinkers to get the format and tiebreakers nailed down

  4. Yespage

    May 10, 2022 at 12:42 pm

    I’ve read it a number of times, I still don’t get it. That has to be one of the worst articles I’ve seen written by the AFP. It is all over the place.

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