The number of clubs in the group stage will increase from 32 to 36.© AFP
UEFA on Monday confirmed that a new format for the Champions League will be introduced from 2024 with the number of clubs in the group stage increasing from 32 to 36, despite an earlier announcement that 12 major clubs were planning to break away and start a rival Super League. The new format — which will see all 36 clubs brought together into one pool instead of the current system of four-team groups — was approved at an executive committee meeting of European football’s governing body in Switzerland.
No announcement was made about how the four extra teams would qualify other than that one place would go to the fifth-ranked league in Europe, which is currently France.
The announcement came hours after news broke of a proposed breakaway Super League which was met with an acid response from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
“I cannot stress more strongly how everyone is united against this disgraceful, self-serving proposals, fuelled by greed above all else,” said Ceferin.
“We are all united against this nonsense of a project. Cynical plan, completely against what football should be. We cannot and will not allow that to change.”
UEFA’s new-look Champions League will follow the so-called ‘Swiss system’, more commonly associated with chess, with clubs split into four pots of nine for the draw based on UEFA coefficients.
Teams will play against 10 different sides, with five games at home and five away.
At the end of this phase, the top eight sides will go through to the last 16, with the bottom 12 eliminated.
Meanwhile, the sides finishing between ninth and 24th position will play two-legged play-offs, with those between ninth and 16th drawn against a side finishing from 17th to 24th.
The winners of those ties will complete the last-16 line-up, with the losers dropping into the Europa League.
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