UEFA has scrapped controversial plans to offer extra places in the Champions League based on club coefficient after finalising the format of the competition from the start of the 2024-25 season.
It had been suggested that two extra places be awarded to teams who fail to qualify through their domestic league based on their historical performance in the competition.
That was met with opposition however, with critics arguing it went against the principals of sporting merit, prompting a re-think.
What are the changes to the new Champions League format?
The new Champions League format, which was initially revealed last year, will see the number of teams increase from 32 to 36 from the 2024-25 season.
One of those extra places will go to a team in the league ranked fifth in UEFA’s national association rankings. Another will be awarded to a domestic champion that progresses through the qualifying rounds.
The final two extra places will be awarded to the two highest performing countries in UEFA competitions that season. If that was applied this campaign the extra places would go to England and the Netherlands.
The original proposal to award extra places based on club coefficient particularly angered middle-tier clubs who felt it was provided a safety net for more 'bigger' sides who missed out on qualifying through their domestic leagues.
This is a particularly sensitive issue given it is a little over a year since the short-lived European Super League proposal.
Instead of the four-team group stage, each team will play eight games, four home and four away, over ten match weeks after UEFA compromised on their initial proposal of ten matches.
Rather than eight groups all the teams will be placed into a single group, the so-called ‘Swiss-style’ format that was initially agreed in April 2021.
The top eight teams will qualify automatically for the round of 16, with those finishing ninth to 24th going through to a 16-team playoff round.
UEFA confirmed that "similar format changes will also be applied to the Europa League (eight matches in the league stage) and Europa Conference League (six matches in the league stage) and both will also include 36 teams in the league phase".
What did UEFA say about the new Champons League format?
Commenting on the agreed changes, 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.
“We are convinced that the format chosen strikes the right balance and that it will improve the competitive balance and generate solid revenues that can be distributed to clubs, leagues and into grassroots football across our continent while increasing the appeal and popularity of our club competitions”
Ceferin added the the proposals had been approved by UEFA's executive committee as well as European leagues and national associations.