LONDON, May 10, 2022 – European football federation UEFA has finally nailed down the format for the expansion of the Champions League from season 2024-25.
The main points of note are the extension from 32 clubs to 36, the award of two of the extra four places to highest-performing countries in the previous season, increase in the number of games in the group stage to eight and confirmation of a rejection of the ‘history bonus’ envisaged in the ill-fated Super League project.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “UEFA has clearly shown today that we are fully committed to respecting the fundamental values of sport and to defending the key principle of open competitions, with qualification based on sporting merit, fully in line with the values and solidarity-based European sports model.
He added: “Qualification will thus remain purely based on sporting performance and the dream to participate will remain for all clubs.”
“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 while increasing the appeal and popularity of our club competitions.”
Ceferin said the new format had been approved unanimously by UEFA’s executive committee, with the agreement of Europe’s league bodies and national associations.. Happily for Ceferin and UEFA, agfter months of behind-the-scenes wrangling, agreement came just in the nick of time on the eve of the body’s congress.
Similar format changes will also be applied to the Europa League (eight matches in the league stage) and Europa Conference League (six matches in the league stage) and both will also expand to feature 36 teams in the league phase from 2024-25.
The new Champions League format will see the initial phase contain one single league table, which includes all teams. Each club will play eight league stage games against different opponents, with four home ties and four away.
The top eight will go through to the knockout stage, while those from ninth to 24th will compete in a two-legged play-off to progress.
A UEFA statement explaining the new system said:
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.
The four additional places created by the increase from 32 to 36 teams in the league phase of the UEFA Champions League will be allocated as follows:
One place will go to the club ranked third in the championship of the association in fifth position in the UEFA national association ranking.
One place 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 will earn one place for the club best ranked in the domestic league behind the UEFA Champions League positions. For example, at the end of the current season the two associations adding one club to the Champions League, based on the collective performance of their clubs would be England and the Netherlands.
The UEFA Executive Committee once again confirmed that all games before the final will still be played midweek, recognising the importance of the domestic calendar of games across Europe.