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What is the new Champions League format? Explaining the ‘Swiss model’

Alex Pattle and Jack Rathborn
·3-min read
The UEFA Champions League format will change from 2024 (Getty)
The UEFA Champions League format will change from 2024 (Getty)

Uefa has confirmed plans to revamp the Champions League in line with the “Swiss model” ahead of the 2024/25 season.

Despite plans from 12 European clubs to form a new European Super League, which would provide protection to the founding members’ participation in the competition, Uefa has confirmed that the new rules for their competition will “retain the principle that domestic performance should be the key to qualification”.

Amid plans to reshape the Champions League, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin has also made threats ina bid to protect the competition, with the potential to ban clubs and players who take part in the Super League from Uefa and Fifa competitions. In a poignantly-worded statement, Ceferin confirmed the governing body looked to express its “joint commitment to the principle of open competition and sporting merit across the continent”, while also “sustaining domestic leagues”.

Ceferin also hit out at a “tiny, self-selected cartel” of clubs, including Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham from the Premier League, by reaffirming the competition’s ability to keep alive “dreams” for clubs all the way down the football pyramid that they could one day play in the competition, while also “enabling long-term viability, prosperity, and growth for everyone in European football”.

Here is how the new tournament will shape out and what you need to know with three more seasons until the proposed changes kick in.

Per Uefa, the format will be as follows:

• The total number of teams in the Champions League will increase from 32 to 36

• The group stage will be replaced with a single league stage including all participating teams

• Every club will play at least 10 league-stage games against 10 different opponents (five home games, five away)

• The top eight sides in the league will qualify automatically for the knockout stage, while the teams finishing ninth to 24th will compete in a two-legged play-off to secure their path to the last 16

• Similar format changes will also be applied to the Europa League (8 matches in the league stage) and Europa Conference League (6 matches in the league stage)

• Subject to further discussions and agreements, those two competitions may also be expanded to a total of 36 teams each in the league stage

• Qualification for the Champions League 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 co-efficient 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

• All games before the final will still be played midweek

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