New Champions League : The showpiece competition will see its biggest format change in 20 years
For quite some time now, UEFA have been contemplating about expanding the Champions League. And the governing council is all set to move ahead with its plans of reworking the marquee tournament’s format with the body’s new format set to get a stamp of approval come April.
The most notable change in the way the competition will be conducted since 20 years, UEFA have worked at not only increasing the number of teams but also changing the matchups. Starting the 2024 edition of the Champions League, 36 teams will partake in the tournament, up from the ongoing 32.
Along with the four team increase, UEFA have also decided to introduce the Swiss model to overhaul the current group stage matches. The new model will see each side take on ten opponents in a seeding based format rather than each side playing its counterparts in its group.
New Champions League 2024 Format
The number of clubs participating in the Champions League proper will go up from 32 to 36.
The current group stage, in which clubs are divided into eight pools of four, is to be replaced with one single 36 team league which will be conducted revolving around the Swiss model.
The Swiss model is largely in use in chess with the Champions League slated to be the first major football competition to incorporate it.
Swiss Model Explained
Under a Swiss model-style system, teams play a set number of games rather than facing every other team in its group.
In the case of the 36-team Champions League, clubs are set to play 10 matches against opponents determined by a seeding system rather than the usual 6 group stage fixtures.
The seeding system will be designed so that all teams play a roughly even split of games against high, medium and low-ranked sides across the length of their life in the tournament.
Once all teams have played their 10 games, the top eight clubs in the 36-team league will progress to the competition’s quarter-finals with these sides also sealing a direct qualification spot in next season’s Champions League.
Criteria For New 4 Spots
The proposal which is in place at the moment has seen UEFA and the big team dominated European Club Association determine to hand over one spot to Ligue 1.
That would bring the French league in line with England, Spain, Germany and Italy, who already provide four Champions League teams.
The other three places would go to clubs who did not qualify through their league position but have strong recent records in European competition.
This would assure clubs who have had a poor campaign but are usually Champions League regulars to remain assured of a spot in the next season even if they finish fifth. Leagues from smaller associations and countries have long been advocating for reserving the three spots for them.