THE chaos caused by the Super League shambles meant far-reaching changes to the existing European competitions passed by almost unnoticed.
Uefa rubber-stamped its proposals, backed by national associations, for a major revamp to start from the 2024-25 season and to run for at least nine years.
SunSport explains what was agreed:
So what is the new plan?
The Champions League will be revamped and expanded from 32 clubs to 36 per season, with the initial group stage scrapped and replaced by a single league.
How do you fit in another 70 games?
You can’t. And they won’t. Instead, each team will play 10 matches, five home and five away, against opponents seeded for strength, under the so-called ‘Swiss model’.
After the 10 matches, scheduled to be extended into the last week of January, we will have the final table.
Then what happens?
The top eight will go straight through to the knock-out stage, with the teams finishing ninth to 24th playing off in two-legged ties to join them in the last 16 and the bottom eight out of the competition.
There will be no trapdoor to the Europa League.
Then it’s a normal knock-out?
Not completely. Uefa is considering seeding the entire draw from the last 16 stage, so that the top two in the League stage can avoid each other until the Final.
And it is increasingly likely that the semi-final stage will be merged with the showpiece event into a ‘Final Four’ series of sudden death matches at the end of May.
Who will make up the teams involved?
Uefa think the current system, involving four guaranteed places for the leading four nations – currently England, Spain, Germany and Italy – should remain.
But the four extra places will go to the fourth team in the fifth-ranked League – currently France although they could be overtaken by Portugal – one to an extra side from the play-off ‘champions’ path’ and two for ‘the clubs with the highest club coefficient over the last five years who have not qualified for the group stage but have for European competition’.
Every team who enters European competition earns ‘coefficient points’ for wins, draws and qualification bonuses.
These will be calculated over five years, effectively providing a backdoor route for major teams who have a relative nightmare domestically but still finish in a European place.
If adopted this season, based on current league tables, the two boosted clubs would be Liverpool (sixth in the Prem) and Dortmund (fifth in the Bundesliga). West Ham (fifth) would stay in the Europa League.
Talking of the Europa League…
Both the Europa League and the new Uefa Conference League, due to start next season, will also be expanded to 36 teams.
But teams would play just eight matches in the Europa and six in the Conference league stages, allowing exclusive Champions League programmes, with matches also played on a Thursday, on two weeks.
Is this a fixed idea?
In outline yes. The basics have been approved by all relevant parties and it is envisaged that the extension from 125 Champions League games per season to 225 will bring in as much as an extra £500m per season in TV and sponsorship packages alone.
But the Super League rebellion has already brought arguments that the coefficient places should be scrapped as punishment with more champions from smaller countries qualifying automatically.
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