New Champions League format unveiled amid European Super League backlash

UEFA has unveiled a new format for a revamped Champions League amid the backlash against plans for a European Super League.

Football has been thrown into turmoil after the Premier League's so-called 'Big Six' plus six other clubs announced plans to form a breakaway league.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham have all signalled their intent to join the league, along with AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid.

And amid wide condemnation of the 'rebel' clubs, European football's governing body has announced plans for a new Champions League format which will involve 36 teams each season from the 2024/25 campaign.

The current group stage would be replaced by a single league stage which would guarantee each participating club at least 10 games against 10 different teams – five home and five away.

The top eight sides in the league will qualify automatically for the knockout stage, while the teams finishing from ninth to 24th place will compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining places in the last 16.

Similar format changes will also be applied to the Europa League, with each club playing eight matches in the league stage, and the UEFA Europa Conference League -with talks to take place over whether these two competitions will also be expanded to 36 teams each season.

In a statement released by UEFA, president Aleksander Čeferin said the revised competition would "keep alive the dream of any team in Europe to participate in the UEFA Champions League thanks to results obtained on the pitch".

“This new format supports the status and future of the domestic game throughout Europe as well," he said.

European Super League announcement fallout

"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.

"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."

The statement from UEFA added: "Qualification for the UEFA 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 coefficient 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, recognising the importance of the domestic calendar of games across Europe."

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