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New Champions League Format Explained – European Super League 2.0?

In this post we take a look at the new Champions League format and explain to how it works, how it’s different and when it will be implemented.

When Does The New Champions League Format Start

This is the second last instalment of the Champions League that we know and love with the competition due to go through some dramatic changes following next season.

At a meeting in Vienna just over a year ago, the UEFA Executive Committee signed off on a new format following two years of debate and speculation about the future of the premier competition in European football.

The 2024-25 season will see more teams taking part and significantly more matches being played in what has been titled the “Super League Volume Two”. Teams from the same nations could also meet far sooner, while fans are likely to find themselves in the position whereby they’ll have to cheer on their domestic rivals to supplement their European aspirations.

What will the Champions League look like from 2024-25?

The number of teams competing in the competition will increase from 32 to 36 and the number of matches will rise from 125 to 189 with the Group Stage being replaced by a league phase commonly referred to as the “Swiss Model”.

Each participant plays eight league matches (originally ten was proposed) which will be evenly split between five home games and five away wins. Following those games, the top eight will qualify for the knockout stage with the remaining places decided between teams ranked 9th-24th partaking in a two-legged play-off.

Two of the extra teams in the competition will be decided based on a country’s collective performance from the previous season, which is a move away from the five-year coefficient system currently in place. This rule would have meant that in three of the past four campaigns, a team in the Premier League would receive a slot.

Theoretically, up to seven teams from the Premier League could qualify for the competition through league performance along with victory in the Europa League. The new format will also mean clubs from the same jurisdiction can play one another in the knockout stages, whereas previously that was blocked until the Quarter-Final stage.

The league format will also be condensed into a ten-week period, which will result in the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League receiving an exclusive week dedicated to their tournament.

How is The New Champions League Format Different?

The current format places 32 teams across eight four-team groups with the top two teams reaching the knockout stages and the third-place side dropping into the Europa League compared with the new league format.

These teams qualify for the knockout rounds through the last-16 stage, the quarter-final, and the semi-final and win the final for the title of Champions of Europe.

Who will The New Format favour?

The Premier League is very likely to receive an extra Champions League slot rising from four currently to five due to the Premier League’s dominance in Europe in recent seasons. Furthermore, the Spanish, German and Italian sides are all likely to gain an extra place in the competition.

While it is possible for respective “smaller countries” to earn one of the coefficient places, there is a thought that this new system does resemble a “Super League” format. The original 10-game format was not wanted by the Premier League and La Liga sides while Ligue 1 in France wanted a ten-game format with no club coefficients.

The French league wanted one of the two extra places to go to a domestic champion from a mid-sized league. While the other place would go to the fifth biggest league which is conveniently Ligue 1.

What are the financial ramifications?

These proposed changes could go some way to appeasing some of the executives of the clubs that were the biggest supporters of the “Super League” for now at least. Many executives criticized the coefficient system as it put a “glass ceiling” on what could be achieved by their club, but the country coefficient system should alleviate that concern.

However, the financial gap between smaller sides and bigger sides will only grow due to the new format (exactly what proponents of the Super League wanted) due to the increased spots and increased broadcast revenue.

UEFA have said they hope to see overall revenue rise by 33% with the Champions League currently bringing in €3.6billion (£3.13bn; $3.9bn) for every season from 2021-2024. UEFA competitions director Giorgio Marchetti has estimated that it could range from €4.6billion and €4.8bn.” afterwards.

What Does It Mean For The Future of European Club Football?

This will be seen by many as some sort of compromise with UEFA and the top clubs following the failed European Super League attempt in April 2021. However, some of the changes will give cause for concern for those who were not a fan of the attempt, that this is just the first step in what has become a dangerous precedent for football as we know it.

UEFA know how much of the competition’s marketability comes from the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United and so find themselves between a rock and a hard place to try and preserve football as we know it.

In advance of this change in May UEFA said “We are convinced that the format chosen strikes the right balance and that it will improve the competitive balance and generate solid revenues that can be distributed to clubs, leagues and into grassroots football across our continent,”.

The Europa League and Europa Conference League will follow similar formats, the Europa League is using an identical system to the Champions League with a league phase of eight matches per team. Clubs in the Europa Conference League will play six matches in their league stage while both will have 36 teams.

For a full preview of Man City v Inter Milan check out our Champions League Final Prediction post where we look at the odds, matchups and form for both teams ahead of the world’s biggest club football game.

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