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Reform of the Champions League: UEFA launches a mini-championship with 36 teams

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UEFA adopted on Tuesday a reform transforming the Champions League, which will start from the 2024-2025 season with an eight-day mini-championship. By increasing the number of clubs participating in the competition from 32 to 36 teams, the reform would make it possible in particular to offer more matches to broadcasters.

The Champions League will start from 2024-2025 with an eight-day mini-championship with 36 teams, compared to 32 clubs playing the group stage over six days today, UEFA ruled on Tuesday, a controversial reform supposed to propose more matches to broadcasters.

At the end of its Executive Committee in Vienna, the European football body adopted the outlines of this overhaul, with also two additional places allocated to the two best European nations over the previous season, a sort of catch-up net for the top names, and a third club qualified for the fifth nation in the UEFA index, currently France.

Satisfy broadcasters, clubs and viewers

This reform, the most radical for 20 years, was validated a year after the storm of the Super League, this ephemeral project of private competition launched by several rebellious clubs, including Real Madrid and Liverpool, who will face each other on May 28. in the Champions League final. “We are convinced that the formula chosen is harmonious, that it will improve the balance of competitions and ensure solid revenues which can be redistributed (…), while increasing the attractiveness and popularity of our interclub competitions”, welcomed the boss of UEFA, Aleksander Ceferin, quoted in a press release.

By stretching out the first phase, the objective is to satisfy both the broadcasters, with 225 matches in total instead of 125 today, the clubs, assured of higher ticketing income – even in the event of early elimination – , and viewers looking for prestigious posters.

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Questions with an already saturated calendar

Two subjects raised questions, in European football with an already saturated calendar and precarious economic balances. First the number of mini-championship days, initially set at ten but finally reduced to eight, then the allocation of two of the four additional tickets for the benefit of the UEFA coefficient of each non-qualified club, a proposal which favored the championships the most affluent.

The continental body accepted a concession on the two points, by awarding two additional tickets via the classification of the championships concerned, and not directly to the best clubs. The first eight teams at the end of the first phase will qualify for the round of 16, while the teams who will be classified from 9th to 24th place will go through play-offs in the home and away format.

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UEFA has also announced that apart from the final, all matches will continue to be played in the middle of the week, a confirmation expected by the national leagues which usually play at weekends. The Europa League and the Europa League Conference are also affected by this reform, with a format modeled on that of the new Champions League.

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