New Champions League plans: Premier League clubs could qualify by finishing 6th or 7th

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The news that the Champions League would be changing dramatically in 2024 was very much lost in all the European Super League chat.

Usually, a huge change to Europe’s biggest club competition would be massive news.

But after the Super League news on Sunday evening, nobody paid any attention to UEFA's announcement on Monday.

So, how will the new Champions League work come 2024?

Well, the total number of teams will increase from 32 to 36. A small change but it’s significant where those four extra teams come from.

One of the additional places will go to the club who finish third in the league of the association in fifth position in the UEFA national association ranking (currently France).

Another will be awarded to a club that wins the league from an association without automatic qualification to the group stage.

The final two places will go to the clubs with the highest club coefficient over the last five years that have not qualified for the Champions League group stage but have qualified either for the Champions League qualification phase, the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.

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So, how does this work in practice?

Well, one fan on Reddit has shown the 36 teams who would have qualified for this season’s Champions League.

It shows how both Tottenham and Arsenal qualify despite finishing sixth and seventh through the fact that they’re the “clubs with the highest club coefficient over the last five years that have not qualified for the Champions League group stage but have qualified either for the Champions League qualification phase, the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.”

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It’s not quite European Super League but that’s pretty ridiculous, right?

Surely that’s the end of the ’top-four' race in England because any big club that finishes 5th, 6th or 7th will likely earn qualification into the Champions League anyway.

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What is the format of the rest of the competition once the 36 clubs have qualified?

The traditional group stage is no longer, being replaced by one big 36-team league. Each club will play 10 league stage games against 10 different opponents (five home games, five away).

The top eight sides will qualify automatically for the knockout stages, while the teams finishing in ninth to 24th will face a two-legged play-off for the remaining eight spots.

The knockout stages will, thankfully, remain the same.

Similar format changes will also be applied to the UEFA Europa League (8 matches in the league stage) and UEFA Europa Conference League (6 matches in the league stage).

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Commenting on the new format, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, said:

"This new format supports the status and future of the domestic game throughout Europe as well. It retains the principle that domestic performance should be the key to qualification and reconfirms the principles of solidarity right through the game and of open competition.

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"This evolved format will still keep alive the dream of any team in Europe to participate in the UEFA Champions League thanks to results obtained on the pitch and it will enable long-term viability, prosperity, and growth for everyone in European football, not just a tiny, self-selected cartel.

"Football is a social and cultural treasure, enriched with values, traditions and emotions shared across our continent. As the governing body and responsible stewards of the European game, it is UEFA’s role to safeguard this legacy while leading positive future development of football in Europe for national associations, leagues, clubs, players, and fans at every level.

"This is why we had an extensive consultation process over the last two years which led to the unanimous backing of our proposal and we are convinced that these reforms achieve those objectives."

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