Champions League

UEFA abolish the away goals rule from all competitions with immediate effect

Ross Jackson
UEFA have abolished the away goals rule
UEFA have abolished the away goals rule / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

UEFA have announced that from the start of 2021/22 season onwards the away goals rule will no longer be implemented in any of their competitions.

The ruling has been in place since 1965 and meant if the aggregate score between two teams over two legs was tied, the side who scored more away goals would progress through to the next round of the competition.

If both sides had scored the same amount of away goals the tie would head into extra time, though UEFA have now released a statement confirming away goals will no longer carry any more weight than goals scored at home, and if the aggregate scores are level after the two legs then the game will automatically head into extra time.

European football's governing body released a short statement confirming the change which takes place with immediate effect - though naturally this has no bearing on the European Championship with no two-legged ties involved in the tournament - explaining the advantage of playing at home has reduced over time and so they no longer feel the rule is necessary.

"Following the recommendation of the UEFA Club Competitions Committee and the UEFA Women’s Football Committee, the UEFA Executive Committee has today approved a proposal to remove the so-called away goals rule from all UEFA club competitions [men, women and youth] as of the qualifying phases of the 2021/22 competitions," the statement read.

"Since away goals would no longer be given additional weight to decide a tie, they would also be removed from the criteria used to determine the rankings when two or more teams are equal on points in the group stage i.e. the criteria applied to matches played by the teams in question.

Aleksander Ceferin has confirmed the away goals rule has been removed
Aleksander Ceferin has confirmed the away goals rule has been removed / ANDREAS SOLARO/Getty Images

"They would not be removed from the additional criteria applied to all group matches if the teams remain equal [higher number of away goals scored in all group matches], in order to retain a maximum number of sporting criteria.

"Statistics from the mid-1970s until now show a clear trend of continuous reduction in the gap between the number of home/away wins (from 61%/19% to 47%/30%) and the average number of goals per match scored at home/away (from 2.02/0.95 to 1.58/1.15) in men’s competitions, whereas since 2009/10, the average goals per game have remained very steady in the UEFA Women’s Champions League with the overall average of 1.92 for home teams and 1.6 for away teams."

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin explained the removal of the rule has been in the pipeline for a while and that he hoped its abolishment would stop home sides being so wary of conceding an away goal and subsequently playing defensive-minded football.

“The away goals rule has been an intrinsic part of UEFA competitions since it was introduced in 1965," he said. "However, the question of its abolition has been debated at various UEFA meetings over the last few years.

The Champions League is one of the competitions to be impacted by the change
The Champions League is one of the competitions to be impacted by the change / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

"Although there was no unanimity of views, many coaches, fans and other football stakeholders have questioned its fairness and have expressed a preference for the rule to be abolished.

"The impact of the rule now runs counter to its original purpose as, in fact, it now dissuades home teams - especially in first legs - from attacking, because they fear conceding a goal that would give their opponents a crucial advantage.

"There is also criticism of the unfairness, especially in extra time, of obliging the home team to score twice when the away team has scored. It is fair to say that home advantage is nowadays no longer as significant as it once was.

"Taking into consideration the consistency across Europe in terms of styles of play, and many different factors which have led to a decline in home advantage, the UEFA Executive Committee has taken the correct decision in adopting the view that it is no longer appropriate for an away goal to carry more weight than one scored at home.”