UEFA on April 19 confirmed a new format that will be put in action from the 2024 Champions League season. This announcement came on the back of the condemnation of the controversial breakaway Super League by UEFA, FIFA and the Premier League.
“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,” said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin on the new 2024 Champions League format on UCL’s official website.
Here’s all the details on the new format:
WHAT IS THIS CHANGE?
The current format’s 32-team group stage would be increased to a 36-team league format instead. The eight groups of four teams from the current system would change to a single league made up of all 36 competing clubs. This will give four more sides the opportunity to compete against the best clubs in Europe.
Under the new format, teams will play four more matches than what they do currently in the group stage. They will no longer play three opponents twice but will instead face 10 different teams, half of them at home and half of them away.
WHERE WOULD THE FOUR EXTRA TEAMS COME FROM?
Initially, there was no announcement made about how the four extra teams would qualify other than that one place would go to the fifth-ranked league in Europe, which is currently France.
But UEFA went on to clarify these new positions in the league. Qualification for the Champions League will continue to depend on the final position in the previous season’s domestic league competition for any club. The additional four slots available in 2024-25 will be allocated according to three different criteria:
- Slot one: One of the additional places will go to the club ranked third in the championship of the association in the fifth position in the UEFA national association ranking which is the French league, currently.
- Slot two: 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’.
- Slots three and four: Awarded to the two clubs with the highest club coefficients that have not qualified automatically for the Champions League’s league stage but have qualified either for the Champions League qualification phase or the Europa League/the Europa Conference League,, the latter of which will kickstart from the 2021-22 season.
HOW WILL THE KNOCKOUT STAGES BE AFFECTED?
The top eight teams from the league of 36 teams will advance automatically to the Round of 16 stage, those sides placed between 9th and 24th will enter a play-off round. Those who finished between 9th and 16th will be seeded in the play-off draw, meaning they will face a team placed 17th to 24th – with home advantage in the second-leg match. Teams who finish 25th or lower will be eliminated and won’t be relegated to the UEFA Europa League either.
The eight clubs who prevail in the playoffs will then progress to the Round of 16 stage. From the Round of 16 onward, the competition will continue to follow its existing Champions League format of knockout rounds.
RECEPTION FROM THE FOOTBALL WORLD
The world was busy protesting against the evils of the Super League when UEFA thought of dropping this bombshell. There still has been some criticism of this new structure for the 2024 Champions League.
Ilkay Gundogan took to Twitter to make his thoughts known to the world while top managers like Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp were not impressed by the addition of these games and prefer the way the competition is currently.
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