UEFA have scrapped their controversial proposals for Champions League qualification, but have announced a new plan which could still benefit Premier League clubs.
European football’s governing body had looked set to implement new plans to reward two teams with places in the Champions League based on their 10-year coefficient. Proposals had also been tabled to extend the group stage to 10 matches, rather than the current six.
The plans were met with disdain from across Europe, with many supporters seeing it as akin to the failed European Super League last year in helping the continent’s biggest clubs ensure they get their seats at the top table. The European Clubs Association met in Madrid on Monday to discuss the proposals to expand the competition.
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UEFA though have now confirmed the “Swiss system” will not be utilised from the start of the 2024/25 season following fresh talks with the ECA. A statement also confirmed plans to extend the group stage to 10 games have been shelved, with teams set to play eight instead.
Plans to expand the Champions League to 36 teams though will go ahead, despite concerns around fixture congestion. UEFA have outlined how the four additional places will be distributed, with two places being awarded to the associations with the “best collective performance by their clubs in the previous season”, with each association earning one place for the club best ranked in the domestic league behind the Champions League positions.
Based on the current season, England and the Netherlands would be the two associations granted the additional places. That could have been good news for Manchester United, as it would have meant they would only need to finish fifth in order to qualify for the Champions League next season.
The two remaining spots in the competition will go to the club ranked third in the league of the association in fifth position in the UEFA national association ranking, as well as another domestic champion, with the so-called “champions path” being extended from four to five clubs.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “UEFA has clearly shown today that we are fully committed to respecting the fundamental values of sport and to defending the key principle of open competitions, with qualification based on sporting merit, fully in line with the values and solidarity-based European sports model.
“Today’s decisions conclude an extensive consultation process during which we listened to the ideas of fans, players, coaches, national associations, clubs and leagues to name but a few, with the aim to find the best solution for the development and success of European football, both domestically and on the international club stage.”
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