Let’s look at the innovations.
UEFA have finally approved a new European cup format that will be effective from the 2024/2025 season. The details are settled and the Swiss system is in place.
Remind me: what is the Swiss system?
At some point, UEFA had peaked in revenue from the Champions League, and for a new breakthrough it was necessary to offer the market something new and, as a consequence, more expensive. So came the complex solution: a) more matches, b) more highly competitive matches.
The first problem was solved by expanding the tournament. There were 32 teams, now there will be 36. There were 6 rounds in the group stage (3 opponents, each at home and away), and it will become 8 (with 8 opponents, 4 games at home, 4 away).
For the second task introduced the Swiss system invented in chess. There is no longer a division into small groups, all 36 teams are in a single tournament table. Calendar is not predetermined, but depends on successful performance (team at the top will play with the same winning opponents, the outsider will get comparable opponents – so everyone will have a chance to move up in the table, while the outsiders are still guaranteed matches with the top).
Total – 144 matches in the group stage instead of 96 now, more matches between equal opponents, including more diverse battles between the grands, which collect high ratings.
Almost all of this was solved a year ago. What’s new?
- UEFA was going to increase the number of matches even more radically: from six to 10 rounds in the group stage. A wave of complaints from players and clubs, who argued that with national teams, domestic championships and cups the calendar would be too complicated. Eight was a compromise.
- All stages up to the finals of the Champions League will be played on weekdays. At first, the option of taking some matches on weekends was considered, but the national championships survived (on Saturday and Sunday the coverage of the Champions League broadcasts would have been higher, but such a jump would have gradually weakened the business position of domestic leagues).
- UEFA has decided on the criteria by which the extra four teams will be selected for the LF.
That’s right, where will the new teams come from?
The item that caused the most controversy.
The UEFA management was planning to give two places in the UCL to clubs with the highest coefficient in the European competitions over the past 10 years. Thus any top club, not being in the Champions League zone, could still qualify for the main tournament due to their past success (the only condition: they had to qualify for the Eurocup zone – whether in the Europa League or the Conference League). This situation was not to the liking of the smaller clubs and leagues outside the top five. UEFA was forced to compromise.
- One direct place in the LFC goes to the team ranked third in the fifth league of the UEFA coefficient table (currently Monaco).
- One additional place will be played in the “Champions’ Way” in the qualification (actually the champions of the non-top leagues). Previously, four participants in the group stage were determined there (Sheriff, Salzburg, Malmo and Young Boys passed this season), but will become five.
- One more additional place in the Champions League will be given to the two best countries according to the results of the European Cup season. If this rule were in effect this year, England and the Netherlands would each get an extra team in the Champions League.
How was it with the Champions League playoffs, remind me?
- The top eight teams would automatically make the playoffs.
- The teams ranked 9th to 24th compete in a two-match playoff for 8 more berths.
- Then it’s down to the 1/16 finals, followed by two games and the usual schedule.