UEFA quelled controversy over the new Champions League format on Tuesday by reducing the number of games in the group stage and awarding two places per ranking to leagues rather than clubs.

The changes from the 2024-25 season establish that the Champions League will have 36 teams instead of 32 in the group stage. In addition, the number of dates will increase from six to eight per team, instead of the 10 that were initially proposed.

To placate the biggest controversy, UEFA, national leagues and clubs ruled out assigning two places to teams not classified based on historical results. Those last two places will go to the federations with the best collective performance of their clubs in the previous season.

If the format were in place right now, that would mean fifth place in England would qualify for the Champions League, plus an automatic second place for the Netherlands. The third in the Dutch league will access the qualifying rounds.

The traditional group stage will give way to a single league stage that will include all participating clubs.

The original plan, which sparked strong opposition, particularly from middle-class teams, would have given two places to teams with the best European record in five years who failed to qualify through their result in a season of their domestic league. .

The distribution of the other two new places includes an additional team from the association’s league placed fifth in the UEFA rankings — usually occupied by France — and a fifth ticket to a previously unqualified national champion. automatically.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said the changes approved at an executive committee meeting in Vienna ensure qualification will be determined on sporting merit.

“UEFA has clearly shown today that we are fully committed to respecting the fundamental values ​​of sport and upholding the key principle of open competitions,” Ceferin said.

“We are convinced that the chosen format strikes the right balance and that it will improve the competitive balance,” he added. “It will generate strong revenue that can be distributed to clubs, leagues and grassroots football across our continent, while increasing the attractiveness and popularity of our club competitions.”

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