Big changes are coming to football. It seems inevitable. In the wake of revelations that FIFA president Gianni Infantino wants to expand the World Cup to 16 groups of three, UEFA has revealed that it is altering the set-up of the Champions League.
European football’s governing body has made slight changes to the kick-off times of games, qualification process, coefficient rankings and financial distribution of their flagship competition and confirmed its intention to bring the new format into use from 2018 to 2021.
As part of the new system, the four highest-ranked leagues – Spain, England, Germany and Italy – will see their top four teams go straight into the group stage of the competition, as will the Europa League winners, whereas they can currently go into the final play-off.
League winners who are eliminated in the qualifying round of the competition will still have a chance of earning a place in the second tier competition, with the Europa League getting its own champions’ path.
Unlike Infantino’s dream World Cup, though, the continent’s premier club competition will not expand, as UEFA clarified the number of teams and groups will stay the same.
Meanwhile, the club coefficient will be changed to ensure clubs are seeded based on their own records in the Champions League over the last five years and UEFA says there will be no added weight for previous titles.
However, when it comes to financial distribution, the coefficient rankings of the last 10 years and previous titles will weigh on the money clubs receive.
UEFA also says it will increase payments to clubs and leagues eliminated in the qualifying phase, while sporting success will be “better rewarded” as part of a new distribution system.
President Aleksander Ceferin has ensured €50 million will see its way from the Champions League to the Europa League, with €10m more will follow as “additional solidarity distribution for the qualifying rounds”.
As for the scheduling of games, the organisation has ensured television viewers can see more, with each matchday will have two kick-off times. Two games will start at 19.00 CET, while the other six will take place at 21.00 CET.