After extensive consultation with stakeholders in the game, the UEFA Executive Committee today approved in Vienna the final format and access list for European club competitions from the 2024/25 season, following on from its decision of April 19, 2021 to introduce the “Swiss system”.
The main changes concern the reduction from ten to eight matches in the league phase of the UEFA Champions League and the modification of the criteria for awarding two of the four additional places in this competition by abolishing qualification on the basis of the ranking by club coefficient. This decision confirms UEFA’s firm commitment to the principle of open competitions based on sporting merit, while recognizing the need to protect national championships.
The eight UEFA Champions League matches will be played over the ten European weeks scheduled in the April 2021 decision. The UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League will each have one week exclusivity in the calendar.
The four additional places created by the increase in the number of teams in the UEFA Champions League league stage from 32 to 36 will be allocated as follows:
• A place will be allocated to the club ranked third in the league of the association in fifth position in the UEFA national association ranking.
• A place will be granted to a national champion thanks to the extension from four to five of the number of clubs qualified by the “champion route”.
• The last two places will go to the associations whose clubs have collectively achieved the best performance during the previous season (total number of points obtained divided by the number of participating clubs). These two associations will benefit from a place for the highest ranked club in their national championship after the last club qualified in the UEFA Champions League. For example, at the end of the current season, the two associations that could add a club to the Champions League based on their clubs’ collective performance would be England and the Netherlands.
• Once again, the UEFA Executive Committee has confirmed that apart from the final, all matches will continue to be played midweek, in recognition of the importance of domestic fixtures in Europe.
Commenting on the decisions, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said:
“UEFA has shown clearly today that it is fully committed to upholding the fundamental values of sport and upholding the key principle of open competitions, with a qualification phase based on sporting merit, in line with the model European sport based on solidarity.
Today’s decisions are the result of a long consultation process during which we listened to the ideas of supporters, players, coaches, national associations, clubs and leagues, to name but a few. all stakeholders, with the aim of finding the best solution for the development and success of European club football, both nationally and internationally.
“We are convinced that the formula chosen is harmonious, that it will improve the balance of competitions and ensure solid revenue which can be redistributed to clubs, leagues and grassroots football on our continent, while increasing the attractiveness and the popularity of our interclub competitions.
“I am really pleased that this is a unanimous decision by the UEFA Executive Committee, in agreement with the European Club Association (ECA), European Leagues and the national associations. This is further proof that European football is more united than ever.
“Qualification will thus remain based solely on sporting performance, and all clubs will be able to continue to dream of Europe. »
Summary of the formula
The number of participants in the UEFA Champions League will increase from 32 to 36 teams, but the biggest change will be the transformation of the traditional group stage into a single league stage contested by all participating teams. Each club will now benefit from a minimum of eight guaranteed matches in the league phase against eight different opponents (four home matches and four away matches), instead of the six matches previously played against three teams, in the form of first legs -return.
The top eight teams from the league stage will automatically qualify for the knockout stage, while the teams that finish from the 9e at the 24e place will play play-offs in two rounds in order to qualify for the round of 16.
The same format changes will be applied to the UEFA Europa League (eight matches in the league phase) and the UEFA Europa Conference League (six matches), and both will feature a 36-team league phase.