Last May, UEFA adopted an important reform concerning the Champions League, a revision that will come into force from the 2024-2025 season. This competition, born in 1955 under the name of the Champions Cup, has never stopped evolving to adapt to the new needs of its public. There will no longer be 32 teams but 36 who will compete for the big-eared cup once the reform is in place. Let’s shed light on this new format with the help of the questions that all fans of the most beautiful of European competitions ask themselves.
The reasons that led to this reform
This project was initially developed in reaction to the Super League project, a private competition project between the most powerful European clubs on the initiative of Real Madrid and Liverpool, among others. Therefore, the UEFA management wanted to restore legitimacy to their competition, giving more balance in terms of level and at the same time reinforcing the dwindling popularity.
“We are convinced that the chosen formula is harmonious, that it will improve the balance of the competitions and ensure solid revenues that can be redistributed (…), increasing the attractiveness and popularity of our interclub competitions,” said UEFA boss Aleksander Cheferin.
In addition to the sporting aspect, economic reasons are also the basis of this reform. In fact, it was a matter of satisfying the broadcasters with this new formula that offers more matches, going from 96 matches to 180 matches, from 6 to 10 days for the group stage of this new format. Thus, by multiplying the clashes, UEFA will ensure substantial ticket revenues for the clubs involved.
From now on, “the Champions League will offer long-term sustainability, prosperity and growth to everyone in European football, not just a small group,” said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin.
The principles of this new format
First of all, the UEFA management wanted to clarify that the new model is based on consultations carried out with players and fans.
Initially, eight groups of four teams will no longer be formed but four pots of nine teams will determine the clashes, for a total of 36 teams, four more than in the past. Pot 1 will consist of the champions of the major leagues and the previous year’s Champions League winner, then it will be the UEFA coefficient of the remaining teams that will assign the places within pots 2, 3 and 4.
Thereafter, the top eight teams in the all-around will advance to the round of 16, and the next sixteen teams will play a home and away play-off to try and advance to the round of 16.
From the round of 16, the competition will follow the usual format with home and away knockout matches up to the final.
In total, the round trip will therefore go from 6 days to 10 days (5 at home, 5 away) with no round trip comparison.
With this new organization, the teams will play four more matches. They will no longer play against three opponents twice but against ten teams. Clubs will thus be able to challenge a greater number of opponents, which will delight fans who will then be able to follow high-level confrontations from the start of this competition.
From now on it will be necessary to play between 17 and 19 games to win the cup against the 13 of the current formula.
The impact of this reform
- Viewers will have more opportunities to see the best teams in Europe go head-to-head.
- Every match will count. The new format will now ensure that every confrontation counts, can’t be missed, which will improve the level of combativity of teams and players. Therefore, any result will have an impact on qualification for the round of 16, play-offs or elimination from the competition.
- With this revision, UEFA also wants to support domestic leagues and clubs through increased financial rewards from the first round of the competition.
The first place will be awarded to the team ranked 3th of the nation’s championship in fifth place in the UEFA ranking (currently France).
Second place will be awarded to another national champion, which increases the number of qualified clubs tied to their spot as champion of their league from four to five.
Then, the other two places will be awarded to the top two teams with the highest coefficient but not qualified for the league stage of the UEFA Champions League but qualified for a qualifying stage of the Champions League, Europa League or Conference League.