UEFA vote to start 36-team Champions League in 2024

UEFA have confirmed their planned changes to the Champions League will come into effect from the 2024/25 season, after the governing body’s executive committee voted to push ahead with reforms to the format of the competition.

Europe’s governing body has been looking to revamp the Champions League for a while now and key executives met in Switzerland on Monday to discuss finalising the plans, just one day after some of the game’s biggest names announced their intention to leave the competition in favour of joining the Super League.

Despite being under pressure by the 12 Super League teams, UEFA have opted to push ahead with their plans – taking to their official website to announce a reformatting off the competition from 2024 onwards.

In a statement, 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.

“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.

Aleksander CeferinAleksander Ceferin
Aleksander Ceferin is pushing ahead with UEFA’s Champions League reforms | FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

“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.”

The changes were voted in unanimously, including a nod of approval from PSG owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi – who rejected the chance to join the Super League in favour of remaining loyal to UEFA.

Beginning in the 2024/25 season, 36 teams will be invited to participate – up four from the current rules – and all 36 will be part of one huge group, doing away with the eight groups of four teams that we have come to know.

Nasser Al KhelaifiNasser Al Khelaifi
Al-Khelaifi opted to remain in the Champions League | Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Each of those teams will be seeded and ranked by strength, and those rankings will then be used to decide each side’s ten fixtures. It’s known as the ‘Swiss system’ and has been popularised in various other sports.

The eight sides who finish highest in the group will all qualify for the knockout stages, while those who finish between ninth and 24th will enter their own mini-tournament to decide the remaining eight teams to progress.

Originally, UEFA were panned publicly for the proposed changes, with many fans complaining that it was all about earning more money – and now look where we’re at.

Billed as ‘the biggest change to European football in decades’, this all now seems relatively tame in comparison to the breakaway Super League that has pretty much ripped the entire continent apart. There will be 36 teams in the Champions League from the 2024/25 season, but as it stands, 12 of Europe’s biggest names will not be involved.

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