Amidst the chaos of an impending breakaway ‘Super League’, the UEFA Executive Committee has approved a new format for its club competitions as from the 2024/25 season.
The reforms announced Monday were said to have been extensively debated upon by all interested parties including the participating clubs.
As explained by UEFA in an official statement, the infused changes are designed to secure the positive future of European football at every level and meet the evolving needs of all its stakeholders.
Commenting on the new format, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, said: “this new format supports the status and future of the domestic game throughout Europe as well. It retains the principle that domestic performance should be the key to qualification and reconfirms the principles of solidarity right through the game and of open competition.
“This evolved format will still keep alive the dream of any team in Europe to participate in the UEFA Champions League thanks to results obtained on the pitch and it will enable long-term viability, prosperity, and growth for everyone in European football, not just a tiny, self-selected cartel.”
UEFA said “it will continue dialogue with all relevant bodies on perceived grey areas while also assuring the protections for players’ health across competitions at all levels is a top priority”.
The planned new format will take the total number of teams from 32 to 36 in the UEFA Champions League.
The biggest change as contained in the format released on Monday will see a transformation from the traditional group stage to a single league stage including all participating teams.
Every club will now be guaranteed a minimum of 10 league stage games against 10 different opponents (five home games, five away) rather than the previous six matches against three teams, played on a home and away basis.
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). This is subject to further discussions and agreements.
UEFA assured qualification for the Champions League will continue to be open and earned through a team’s performance in domestic competitions.
One of the additional places will go to the club ranked third in the championship of the association and in the 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 clubs with the highest club coefficient over the last five years that have not qualified for the Champions League group stage but have qualified either for the Champions League qualification phase, the Europa League, or the Europa Conference League.
All games before the final will still be played midweek, recognising the importance of the domestic calendar of games across Europe.
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