VIENNA ( Associated Press) – Amendments to the expanded Champions League format have been agreed by UEFA officials, clubs and leagues in the first phase with a scaled-back and curbs on how past performances can earn merit .
The reformed group stage will still increase from 32 to 36 teams, starting in 2024, but the number of rounds will drop from six to eight instead of just 10, people with knowledge of the talks told the Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the contents of the private meetings.
The UEFA Club Competition Committee has agreed to a change in the format. Now this plan will be voted on in the executive meeting.
People with knowledge of the talks said two additional places in the expanded format would be awarded to the two countries with the highest UEFA rankings based on their teams’ results in European competitions last season. If the system was already in place, it would mean that the fifth-placed team in England would qualify for the Champions League with a second automatic spot for the Netherlands. The third-placed team in the Dutch league will get a chance to enter the qualifying round.
The original plan that sparked the backlash, Especially among middle-class clubs, two places would be awarded to teams with the strongest five-season record in Europe that failed to qualify through their home leagues.
The distribution of the other two expansion places will see an additional team qualify from a fifth-placed country in Europe – regularly France – and a fifth-place finisher for the domestic champions who do not qualify automatically.
In the first main leg of the new form of the Champions League, teams will be placed in the same standings instead of in groups of eight. Only eight teams will automatically qualify for the Round of 16. But a 24th-place finish out of 36 teams would secure an entry into the 16-team playoff round.
From 2024, 10 weeks will be set aside for European games but two weeks will be reserved for the Europa League and Europa Conference League.
The current 32-team Champions League makes 96 games in the group stage. Leaving 10 to eight games per team would result in an additional 64 games instead of 100 before the round of 16. This will affect UEFA’s forecast of an increase in revenue of about 40%. from its club competitions from the current 3.5 billion euros ($3.8 billion) annually.
The Champions League was created in 1992 from the European Cup, which began in 1955 and was a knockout tournament for most of its existence.
More Associated Press Soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports