UEFA officials, clubs and leagues have agreed to revisions to the expanded format of the Champions League, including increasing the number of group stage matches to eight.
The reformatted group stage will continue to grow from 32 to 36 teams starting in 2024, but the number of rounds will only jump from six to eight per team, not 10.
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UEFA’s club competition committee has agreed to change the format. The plan will now be voted on at a meeting of the Executive Board.
Two additional places in the expanded format would be awarded to the two countries with the highest rankings in UEFA based on the results of their teams in European competitions last season. Had the system already been in place, it would have meant that England’s fifth-placed team would have qualified for the Champions League along with another automatic place for the Netherlands. The third team of the Dutch league would get a chance to enter the qualifiers.
“UEFA has made it clear today that we are fully committed to respecting the fundamental values of sport and defending the key principle of open competition, with qualifications based on sporting merit, fully in line with values and the European sporting model based on solidarity,” said the UEFA President. Alexander Cheferin.
“Today’s decisions conclude an extensive consultation process during which we listened to the ideas of fans, players, coaches, national federations, clubs and leagues, to name a few, with the aim of finding the best solution for the development and success of European football. , both on the domestic and international club scene.
“We are confident that the format chosen achieves the right balance and will improve competitive balance and generate solid revenue that can be distributed to clubs, leagues and futsal across our continent, while increasing the attractiveness and popularity of our club competitions.”
The original plan, which provoked negative reactions, especially among middle-class clubs, would award two places to the teams with the strongest record in five seasons in Europe that failed to qualify through their home leagues.
The distribution of the other two places in the enlargement will allow the qualification of an additional team from the fifth-ranked country in Europe – regularly France – and the fifth place for domestic champions who do not qualify automatically.
In the first major phase of the Champions League, the new look of the team will be placed on one scale, not in eight groups. Only eight teams will automatically qualify for the round of 16. But placing 24th out of 36 teams will secure entry into the playoffs with 16 teams.
10 weeks would be reserved for European matches from 2024, but two weeks are reserved for the Europa League and the European Conference League.
The Champions League with 32 teams gives 96 matches in the group stage. A drop from 10 to eight games per team will bring an additional 64 games instead of 100 before the round of 16. This would have an impact on UEFA’s projections of revenue growth of around 40% from the current € 3.5 billion ($ 3.8 billion) per year from club competition.
The Champions League originated in 1992 from the European Cup, which began in 1955 and for most of its existence was a knockout tournament.