The new 36-team format for the UEFA Champions League has been officially unveiled by UEFA, despite talks of a breakaway European Super League dominating the last 24 hours.
The new and expanded format for the Champions League, which will see 36 clubs participate in the competition opposed to the traditional 32, will see clubs operate under a ‘Swiss style’ format.
Each club involved will play ten games each as part of a league table against teams from four different seeded pots.
The clubs that finish in the top eight will progress to the last-16 of the competition, whilst a play-off showdown will decide who joins them in the knockout stage. The knockout stage will be no different to its current format that we are all familiar with.
The change in format has been opposed by a number of clubs, including Manchester United and Real Madrid, both of whom have confirmed they will participate in the European Super League. Both clubs, as well as Bayern Munich, who have rejected an offer to join the new mid-week tournament, have written to former ECA chairman Andrea Angelli.
A statement released by UEFA read: “The UEFA Executive Committee today approved a new format for its club competitions as of the 2024/25 season.
“The reforms come after an extensive consultation across the football family and received unanimous backing from the ECA Board and the UEFA Club Competitions Committee (made of a majority of club representatives) last Friday.
“The changes made are designed to secure the positive future of European football at every level and meet the evolving needs of all its stakeholders. Unequivocally confirming joint commitment to the principle of open competition and sporting merit across the continent, the common purpose has also been to sustain domestic leagues.”
On the changes from the current Champions League format, Aleksander Ceferin, the UEFA president, said: “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.
“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.
“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.
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“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.”
This announcement, of course, has arrived less than 24 hours after Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur confirmed their plans to form a breakaway European Super League.
The six English heavyweights have been joined by AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid in confirming their desires to form the tournament.