From 2024, there will be changes made to the format of the UEFA Champions League, and this was discussed at an ECA conference earlier this week in Vienna, Austria.
The reformations were partly in response to the proposed European Super League that was announced last year and promptly met with harsh backlash from the greater majority of the footballing community. Of all of the clubs that were initially in on the agreements for the Super League, only Juventus, Real Madrid, and FC Barcelona were the only three not to back out of the plans for the breakaway league.
From 2024, the Champions League format will contain 36 teams instead of 32 and they will no longer be drawn into eight separate groups. Rather, they will all play in one “league” and each team will play 10 matches comprised of 5 home matches and 5 away matches which will all be played against 10 different opponents. The opponents will be drawn from four different seeding pots and the top right of the 36 teams will qualify for the round of 16 knockout stages and the teams ranked 9th to 24th play the remaining eight round of 16 matches in a new play-off round with a two-legged game.
For the new format, there are still question marks as to how the money will be distributed to teams when it’s in place as well as the Europa League and Europa Conference League. While, in principal, these reformations aim to rejuvenate the overall competitive of the UEFA Champions League, charging what’s been in place for so long might come as a bit of a shock for fans, especially fans of teams that have rich history in the competition.
For changes like the ones that we’ll be seeing from 2024, Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn feels that the fans should be far more involved in the decision making processes, and at the very least, have their opinions considered. It was ultimately the overwhelming majority of fans across the world that spearheaded the campaign to put an end, at least temporarily, to the European Super League, so Kahn feels their voices need to be heard more. “It will be very important to communicate, also about the new formats in 2024. We had meetings in Munich to discuss the benefits of the new format with our fans. I think that will be an important part of the future: discussions with our base,” he explained while sat alongside Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi (kicker).
The scenes outside of Old Trafford last year from Manchester United supporters are a grim reminder of what most fans feel about this “breakaway” league and money-grab reformations from the main governing bodies.