Champions League will expand from 32 teams to 36 teams in 2024 following UEFA’s approval

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Under UEFA-approved amendments, the number of clubs in the Champions League group stage will increase from 32 to 36 in 2024–25. Under the new format, each side will play eight games over ten-match weeks.

However, a plan to award two Champions League spots to individual teams based on their previous European achievements has been scrapped.

“The desire to participate will continue for all teams,” UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin stated. Instead, two of the four extra places will be determined by a country’s clubs’ performance in Europe during the previous season. UEFA said that a third qualifying round spot will be given to the country’s third-placed league team, which is currently in the third qualifying round.

By raising the number of teams qualifying via the “Champions Path” from four to five, the European governing body announced a fourth berth will go to one country’s domestic champions. The qualification process for domestic champions who do not automatically qualify for the group stage is known as this by UEFA.

UEFA, on the other hand, rejected a plan that would have allowed teams to enter the competition solely based on prior performance, which opponents claimed would have favored “larger” brands and provided them with a safety net if they had a bad season.

It has also changed its early proposal to expand the number of games each side plays in the group phase from six to ten, instead of increasing the number to eight.

UEFA has demonstrated today that we are fully dedicated to upholding sport’s fundamental principles and protecting the crucial premise of open tournaments with qualification based on sporting merit, entirely in accordance with the values and solidarity-based European sports model,” Ceferin said.

“We are certain that the format adopted strikes the correct balance and will improve the competitive balance while also improving the attractiveness and popularity of our club events.”

The new model, according to Ceferin, was unanimously agreed upon by UEFA’s executive committee, with the support of Europe’s league bodies and national associations. The qualification will remain solely based on sporting performance, and all teams will have the opportunity to compete,” he continued. In the current format, clubs are grouped into eight groups of four, with teams playing each other home and away over the course of six games.

The top two players from each group advance to the last 16, where it becomes a knockout event with ties played over two legs at home and away before a one-match final at a neutral location.

In the new arrangement, the first phase will feature a single league table that includes all teams. Each team will play eight league stage games, four at home and four away, against different opponents. The top eight teams will go to the knockout stage, while those in ninth through 24th place will fight in a two-legged play-off for a chance to advance.

“Similar format adjustments will be applied to the Europa League (eight matches in the league stage) and the Europa Conference League (six matches in the league stage), both of which will comprise 36 clubs in the league phase,” UEFA said.

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