UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League reforms conclude two years of widespread consultations.
An increase in the number of teams competing from 32 to 36, a single league stage for all competing teams, and each team playing at least 10 games against 10 different opponents in the league stage. These are some of the changes that have been brought forward by UEFA for their competitions from the 2024-25 season. The announcement comes when the Football world is expressing its dissatisfaction with a newly proposed European Super League. As per UEFA, the decision was taken after extensive consultation and unanimous backing from the European Club Association (ECA) board and the UEFA Club Competitions Committee on Friday.
UEFA said that the changes made were to secure the positive future of European Football at every level, and meet the evolving needs of all its stakeholders. They also said that the common purpose has been to sustain domestic leagues.
“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,” said UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.
“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,” he continued.
“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. 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,” Ceferis concluded.
Decisions regarding the re-balancing of the access list, match dates, seeding system, format for the finals, coefficients, and financial distribution will be made by the end of the year, and any adjustments to the format could be approved if necessary.
The number of teams in the UEFA Champions League will be increased from 32 to 36, and the number of participants could also be increased to 36 in the Europa League and the Europa Conference League.
There have been major changes in all of the competition’s early stages as UEFA has done away with the traditional group stage format, and introduced a single league format which will see all participating clubs play 10 matches against 10 different sides. They would play five games at home and five away. The top-eight sides after the league stage will secure automatic qualification to the Round of 16, while the clubs ranked 9th to 24th will play a two-legged play-off to qualify for the round of 16 stage.
The Europa League and the Europa Conference League will have a similar format, with teams playing eight and six matches respectively in the competitions.
Qualification to the Champions League would continue to be based on performance in the clubs’ respective domestic competitions. 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. Another will be awarded to a domestic champion by extending the number of clubs qualifying through the ‘Champions Path’ from four to five.
The final two places will go to the clubs with the highest club coefficient over the last five years, and if they have failed to secure qualification to the Champions League, but have managed to qualify for either the Europa League or the Europa Conference League. All matches, apart from the finals, would be played during mid-week.