UEFA strikes back and presents new Champions League format
The group stage would disappear and the number of participating teams would increase to 36
BarcelonaHours after continental football was shocked by the announcement of a Super League behind UEFA and FIFA's backs, the highest European body has presented a new format of the Champions League to begin to respond to Real Madrid, Barca and the ten other clubs that want to organise their own tournament. UEFA has unanimously approved the reform of the Champions League at its executive council. The changes will come into effect from the 2024-25 season, once the current contracts have expired. Access to the competition will continue to depend on the sporting merits of the teams in the respective state leagues, which contrasts with the founding criteria of the Super League.
The new Champions League model, promoted by the ECA (European Club Association), a body from which some Super League promoters have already defected, guarantees a minimum of ten matches for each participant, four more than the current format. It will also increase the number of teams from 32 to 36 to open up the tournament to representatives from smaller European leagues. But the most groundbreaking aspect will be the competition system. The traditional eight groups would disappear to make way for a group stage in which the teams would play each other according to their UEFA rankings. For example, the top seeds would play two matches against teams in their own group, three against teams in group 2, three against teams in group 3 and two against teams in group 4. The top eight teams in this 36-team league would advance directly to the Round of 16, with the ninth to 24th teams entering a play-off to decide eight more places. Those eliminated in this round would advance to the Europa League.
FIFA, awaiting moves
UEFA's proposal is that the Champions League is played on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the year with the aim of increasing the number of matches and media exposure, in addition to generating a higher television rights. The idea of the highest body that governs European football is pending negotiations with the twelve dissident clubs that backed the Super League. The battle to reshape continental football competitions has only just begun. On the other hand, FIFA, chaired by Gianni Infantino, is also paying attention to any changes ahead of the 2022 World Cup. The world governing body is not in favour of handing over the management of the world's best club tournament to clubs either. The Super League has already appointed a president, Florentino Perez (Real Madrid), and two vice-presidents, Joel Glazer (Manchester United) and Andrea Agnelli (Juventus).