UEFA announces new Champions League format with group stage axed

UEFA has confirmed a monster shake-up to the Champions League just hours after the European Super League bombshell.

On Sunday, it was confirmed 12 clubs had already signed up to form the new competition to rival the Champions League.

Under the ‘Swiss System’, teams will be assigned ten opponents in one 36-team league.

All teams will be seeded, with a computer programme carefully selecting clubs of differing strengths to ensure parity across the board. Under this system – first designed for a chess tournament held in Zurich in 1895 – all teams will play five times at home and five times away.

The top 16 teams will progress to the knockout stages, with the club finishing first taking on the side that finished 16th.The second would play 15th, third would play 14th, fourth vs 13th, and so on.

And now UEFA  has revealed a shake-up of their own while also hitting out at the ‘self-selected cartel’ who opted to form their own breakaway tournament.

The Champions League will now welcome 36 teams rather than 32, with each team playing a minimum of ten group stage games against ten different opponents in what’s called the ‘Swiss system’.

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A statement from the governing body read: “The Uefa Executive Committee today approved a new format for its club competitions as of the 2024-25 season.

“The reforms come after extensive consultation across the football family.

“[It] received unanimous backing from the ECA Board and the UEFA Club Competitions Committee (made of a majority of club representatives) last Friday.

“The changes made are designed to secure the positive future of European football at every level and meet the evolving needs of all its stakeholders.

“Unequivocally confirming joint commitment to the principle of open competition and sporting merit across the continent, the common purpose has also been to sustain domestic leagues.”

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Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin gushed about the Champions League format changes – while simultaneously taking aim at the ‘dirty dozen’ who signed up to the ESL.

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On the current competition’s changes, Ceferin 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 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.

“Football is a social and cultural treasure, enriched with values, traditions and emotions shared across our continent.

“As the governing body and responsible stewards of the European game, it is Uefa’s role to safeguard this legacy while leading positive future development of football in Europe for national associations, leagues, clubs, players, and fans at every level.

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“This is why we had an extensive consultation process over the last two years which led to the unanimous backing of our proposal and we are convinced that these reforms achieve those objectives.”

On which teams will grab the extra four places, Uefa explained: “Qualification 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 in 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.”

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