Eight rounds in the first leg of the expanded Champions League from 2024 – NBC10 Philadelphia

A reduced first phase of the expanded Champions League in 2024 was approved by UEFA on Tuesday to quell a backlash across Europe.

The reformatted group stage has been reduced from 10 rounds to eight, and reserve places for teams based on historical performance have been replaced with a qualification method that rewards the most recent performing nations in European football.

The stage will further expand from 32 to 36 teams based on a single standings rather than eight groups.

Weeks of discussions involving domestic leagues and clubs took place over the wire on Tuesday to produce the revised format which will see two additional places in the expanded format awarded to the two countries with the highest UEFA rankings based on the results of their teams in European competitions. previous season.

If the system was already in place, it would mean fifth-place England would qualify for the Champions League with an automatic second place for the Netherlands. The team finishing third in the Dutch league would have a chance to participate in the qualifying rounds.

The original plan which drew criticism, particularly among clubs and middle-class fans, would have awarded the two spots to teams with the strongest five-season record in Europe who failed to qualify in their national leagues.

The distribution of the other two expansion places will see an additional team qualify from the fifth-ranked country in Europe – regularly France – and a fifth place for the national champions who do not automatically qualify.

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin says revisions agreed at an executive committee meeting in Vienna ensure qualification is based on sporting performance.

A radical first plan presented by UEFA in 2019 saw 24 of the 32 Champions League places locked without the need to qualify each year – a largely closed competition that rebel Super League clubs then tried to break. introduce with a failed breakaway last year.

The new format, which was fine-tuned on Tuesday, was initially ratified by UEFA in the turbulent days around the launch of the Super League in April 2021.

“We are confident that the chosen format strikes the right balance,” Čeferin said, “and will improve the competitive balance and generate solid revenue that can be distributed to clubs, leagues and grassroots football across our continent while increasing the appeal and popularity of our club competitions.

The first main leg of the new Champions League features teams taking on eight different opponents, with the top eight automatically qualifying for the knockout stages. .

The allocation of the extra places means, based on England’s current status, they could theoretically have seven teams in the Champions League. This would force English teams to win the Champions League and Europa League without finishing in the Premier League top five.

There will be 10 weeks set aside for European matches in the first league stage from 2024, but only eight will be used for the three UEFA competitions. They will each gain a week of exclusivity to help the Europa League and the Europa Conference League in particular gain more attention, as they also expand to 36 teams based on a single standings.

The current Champions League, made up of 32 teams, produces 96 games in the group stage. Going from 10 to eight games per team will make 64 more games instead of 100 before the round of 16. This would impact UEFA’s revenue forecast increasing by around 40% from the current 3.5 billion euros ($3.8 billion) a year from its club competition.

The Champions League was created in 1992 from the European Cup, which began in 1955 and has been a knockout tournament for most of its existence.

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