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Champions League to kick off new era with format switch in 2024/25

Champions League to kick off new era with format switch in 2024/25

The 2024/25 season will usher in an exciting new era of the UEFA club competitions – the Champions League, Europa League and the Europa Conference League.

The new Champions League rules will see a departure from the current group stage format, transitioning into a new league phase system.

The new tournament format sees the number of participants increase from 32 to 36, handing four additional clubs from across the continent a chance to test their mettle amongst Europe’s elite.

One of the additional four slots will be allocated to the club ranked third in the division of the association in fifth position on the UEFA Association Club coefficient ranking.

The other will be awarded to the domestic champion of an association by increasing the number of qualifiers through the Champions path from four to five, which will include four qualifying rounds.

The remaining two slots will be distributed to the associations with the highest club coefficients from the previous season. 

This effectively means a team finishing fifth in a top league such as the Premier League could potentially secure a Champions League spot. 

The 36 participants in the revised Champions League system will be ranked together and compete in a single league format, replacing the previous group stage structure.

Each team will play eight home and away games, while their opponents will be revealed once all teams are divided into four seeding pots. 

With a wider range of opponents, every match is expected to be more competitive, keeping the entire league interesting until the showpiece event.

It also raises the prospect of seeing the top teams go head-to-head more often and earlier in the competition.

The top eight teams in the league automatically secure their spots in the round of 16, while the teams ranked 9th to 24th will battle it out in a two-legged knockout phase play-off to earn a place in the next round.

Teams that finish 25th or below will be eliminated, with no consolation prize through the Europa League. The knockout phase will retain a similar format, but seeding will be based on final league positions.

Clubs that finish between 9th and 16th will be seeded in the knockout round play-off draw and will face teams ranked between 17th and 24th in the league phase.

The eight clubs which prevail in the knockout phase play-offs will then progress to the last 16, where they will lock horns with the top eight.

The Champions League will follow its existing format from the round of 16 onwards, with similar structures expected for the Europa League and Europa Conference League.

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