UEFA have made wholesome changes to the format of their club competitions from the 2024/25 season.
One of the changes includes a league phase of eight matches, played over ten weeks.
Can it be that the ill-fated European Super League (ESL) is forcing UEFA to think? Since the commotion generated by the ESL, UEFA have had to look inwards to find ways to make its competitions more competitive and attractive.
One of the innovations to its calendar includes the first edition of the UEFA Conference League that kicked off this season. With the ESL bells ringing faintly in the background, UEFA want to block every avenue for the competition to rear its head again..
The traditional big clubs are feeling the pangs of limited resources and looking for avenues of making more money. They compete with the oil Sheikhs, who have invaded European football and have managed to stay above the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
UEFA have introduced innovations to keep its competitions alive and healthy. The UEFA Executive Committee in Vienna approved the final format and access list for its club competitions.
In April 2021, UEFA decided on the so-called “Swiss system”. UEFA have made further amendments to the way their club competitions are held. UEFA have now approved the final format and access for its club competitions for the 2024/25 season.
Some of the main amendments include reducing the number of matches played during the group stage phase of the UEFA Champions League. There was a change of criteria for two of the four added slots in the Champions League. UEFA removed access to the competition based on the club coefficient. UEFA claims it wants to maintain sporting merit and protect the domestic leagues.
The league phase will now have eight matches instead of 10.
Four more places were created, with the number of participating teams increasing from 32 to 36. Matches of the league phase will stretch over ten European weeks. The UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League will relish one week of calendar exclusivity.
Under the new format, instead of the old way of multiple groups, there will be an initial phase with one single league table containing all the participating teams. Every club will play eight different opponents. It will include four home and four away games.
The top eight will automatically qualify for the knockout stage, while teams that finished from ninth to 24th will square off in a two-legged play-off.
The format changes will cascade down to the Europa League (eight matches in the league stage) and Europa Conference League (six matches). Both competitions will also have 36 teams competing in the league phase.
The four places are shared as follows:
* The association in the fifth position in the UEFA national association ranking will receive one place, going to the team that finished third in its league.
* A domestic champion qualifying through the champions’ path will receive one place, increasing their number from four to five.
* Associations with the best collective performance by their clubs in the previous season will receive the remaining two slots.