UEFA Champions League Format
Photo: UEFA

UEFA has made an official announcement to change the format of the Champions League competition. These changes will be implemented from the 2024-2025 season onwards.

UEFA confirmed the plan to change the formats of European competitions last year. Finally, the official announcement has come stating the changes in the Champions League, Europa League, and Conference League format.

President Aleksander Ceferin has also confirmed that two spots will not be given based on historical performance. UEFA had proposed that two spots be given to the teams that didn’t qualify for the tournament through their domestic leagues but have the best UEFA coefficient. The UEFA president now eliminates that idea.

The UEFA president announces, “Qualification will thus remain purely based on sporting performance, and all clubs’ dream to participate will remain.”

There had been no changes to the Champions League format since 2003. 32 teams participated in the elite tournament, and 8 groups were formed. The first stage was played through the round robin’ system where 2 teams had qualified for the Round of 16 from each group. Every team played 6 matches with 3 opponents in the group stage, one home and one away match for each team.

What will be the UEFA Champions League format from 2024?

We have to bid farewell to the well-known format of the UEFA Champions League from the 2024-2025 season. The UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has announced the new format for the competition that will be put into effect from the 2024-2025 season.

36 teams will play in the UEFA Champions League. The Europa League will also feature the same number of teams.

There will be no “round-robin” group stage system. The group stage will be played through the “Swiss System,” where all 36 teams will be ranked on a single table.

Each team will play 8 matches in the first stage, 4 home matches, 4 away matches, and all the matches with different teams. The opponents will be decided through a seeding system.

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After the matches, the top 8 teams will directly qualify for the Round of 16. The teams ranked from 9th to 24th will play two-legged playoffs. Out of these 16 teams, the 8 winners will be eligible for the Round of 16. The 25th to 36th teams will be eliminated after the first stage.

The Champions League matches will be played in midweeks like the previous format. It is to give the utmost importance to the domestic leagues.

Among the 4 different spots, two were planned to award the unqualified teams that had the best performance in the competition’s history. The UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin now dismisses this proposal.

One spot will be given according to UEFA’s coefficient, with the 5th place league given a 3rd automatic spot.

Another spot will be given to a team from UEFA’s champions qualifying path.

And the two remaining spots are awarded to the teams having the best run in the previous season’s UCL competition and ranking higher but out of the qualification zone in the domestic table.

This is what the UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says about the changes in the UEFA Champions League:

“UEFA has clearly shown today that we are fully committed to respecting the fundamental values of sport and 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.”

“Today’s decisions conclude an extensive consultation process during which we listened to the ideas of fans, players, coaches, national associations, clubs, and leagues, to name but a few, to find the best solution for the development and success of European football, both domestically and on the international club stage.”

“We are convinced that the format chosen strikes the right balance. It will improve the competitive balance and generate solid revenues distributed to clubs, leagues, and grassroots football across our continent while increasing the appeal and popularity of our club competitions.”

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“I am pleased that it was a unanimous decision of the UEFA Executive Committee, with the European Club Association, European Leagues, and National Associations all agreeing with the proposal. Another proof that European football is more united than ever.”

“Qualification will thus remain purely based on sporting performance, and the dream to participate will remain for all clubs.”

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