Champions League

Champions League format changes: Places based on historical performance receive support

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
The Champions League is set to change drastically
The Champions League is set to change drastically / David Ramos/GettyImages

Two places in the 2024/25 Champions League are set to be awarded based on historical performance, after the plans received backing from Europe's elite clubs.

Europe's premier club competition is undergoing wholesale reform ahead of its expansion from 32 to 36 teams in 2024.

One of the most controversial aspects of the proposed changes will see two of these additional four spots reserved for teams who initially miss out on qualification, but would be awarded a safety net based on their 'historical performance'.

In practice this refers to clubs with a high-ranking coefficient due to their past performance in European competition. For instance, this season if Man Utd finish outside of the Premier League top four they would not progress into the UCL. Under these new rules however, they would.

As reported by the Guardian, the plans have received backing from the European Club Association, which contains all of the continent's elite clubs, barring Super League die-hards Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.

Speaking at a UEFA congress in Vienna, ECA vice-president Aki Riihilahti said he was 'very happy' with the proposals.

“When we’re talking about the European performance spots, we added domestic performance because you have to look at the whole picture,” Riihilahti said

“How do we have quality premium competitions which are also inclusive? When we add the domestic performance [that means] the next best is there. There’s no leapfrogging. It’s fair, it adds value, and overall when you look at the total picture it makes sense.”

This is not the only change set to be made in 2024. The current group-stage system is also being scrapped. Instead all 36 teams will compete for position in one big league table.

Each team will play 10 games – five home, five away – with opponents determined by their seeding. The top eight teams in the table will then progress to the last-16, while places 9th to 24th will then compete in a playoff for the other spaces in the first knockout round.

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