The Champions League is undoubtedly the biggest European football competition. It brings together the best clubs in the European championships and allows you to attend legendary matches. During the month of May, Aleksander Čeferin, the president of UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), the organization managing European competitions, declared that from the 2024-2025 season, the Champions League would adopt a new formula which will be favorable to all, clubs and supporters. What is it really?
Football is the most popular sport in the world. It unleashes passions and makes hearts vibrate. The World Cup, the Euro, the Can, the Copa America or the Champions League are among the most watched sports competitions in the world. The C1, for example, achieves a large audience every year and is one of the main tournaments on which bets are made on sports betting sites. The tournament also extends its influence in the industry of online gaming sites. We thus find on the best French online casinos, many games like “Play Football: Champions Cup” which are inspired by the competition. Other games from online casino like baccarat, poker or roulette are also inspired by this sport on virtual gambling sites. With so much success in the Champions League in its current form, one wonders if the announced reform is really a good choice.
C1 Old Format
Created in 1955, the C1 has known several formats, but it is the current one that has been the most successful. The Champions League currently has 02 main phases. First we have the group phase which is made up of 32 teams divided into 8 pools of 4. During this phase, the teams in the same pool compete in round trip mode. A team then plays 6 games during the first phase and 96 games are played in all, from September to December on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. The first 2 teams of each group are then qualified for the round of 16 while the 3rd of each group are donated to the Europa League which this year has also seen Eintracht Frankfurt and Glasgow Rangers cross the crampons in final. The latter are eliminated from all European competitions. With this format, you have to win 13 games before lifting the prestigious trophy.
New Champions League format
For years there has always been a power struggle between Europe’s most powerful clubs and UEFA. The subject of the European Super League raised by the biggest clubs in Europe in 2020 has further soured relations with the governing body, which was quick to react by promising to sanction the teams that will join this new project. In order to prevent another initiative of the kind and to try to satisfy the requirements of the clubs, UEFA decided to launch from the 2024-2025 season, a new format of the champions league. We should not be surprised by this change, because the authority has always evolved the competition over the years so that it is adapted to the various changes that occur in the world of football.
What’s new in the new version of the C1
When this new format was announced, the first question was to know what major changes it was going to bring. It was therefore decided at the end of the meeting that UEFA held on April 19 that the number of participating clubs would no longer be 32, but 36 clubs arranged in 4 hats of 9 teams. Then there will be no more group stages, but a kind of championship. This new format will therefore force clubs to play four more matches. The clubs will play 10 matches against 10 different teams, half of them home and the rest away. From September to January, there will be 180 meetings taking place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
In this championship, the 8 best teams qualify directly for the 1/8 and the next 16 will have to obtain their ticket by playing a round-trip play-off. At the end, the last 12 clubs in the general classification are eliminated from all European competitions. No team transferred to the Europa League or the Europa League Conference. To win the C1, it will therefore be necessary to win 17 games when you are qualified directly in the eighth and 19 games when you go through the play-offs.
How will the four additional places be allocated?
Qualification for the C1 will still be done as usual. This will indeed depend on the final place occupied by the team in its local championship. Given that with the new C1, the number of teams will increase from 32 to 36, 4 new clubs will therefore join the competition. These additional places will be distributed as follows:
- A place will be granted to the club ranked 3rd in the championship whose nation occupies the 5th place in the UEFA ranking. For the moment it is France which occupies this rank.
- Another berth will go to a club that qualified through the Champions Path.
- The last two places will go to the teams of the nations with the highest UEFA index over the previous year. At the beginning, these places were supposed to be allocated to the clubs with the best coefficient. The big clubs therefore had a better chance of obtaining it. This came in for a lot of criticism, as that was exactly what Super League was offering, a choice that was not based on meritocracy. Fortunately, following opposition, UEFA has reviewed this option.
The advantages of this new format
This project set up by UEFA is supposed to ensure a future for European football and allow it to adapt to the various changes facing the world of sport in general. The governing bodies claim to be looking for more justice in this environment while offering a huge economic contribution to help the clubs. There will be many other benefits such as:
- More fixtures and shows from Europe’s top teams.
- All matches will be high stakes encounters. As each result will affect the final standings, teams should take all matches seriously.
- More matches, more revenue. According to UEFA, TV rights will increase and could reach 5 billion euros annually during the period 2024-2027 for the various European competitions. Clubs will also be able to expect greater financial benefits given the number of games they will be playing at home.
A format adopted by other European competitions
The Champions League will not be the only competition to change. Indeed, the Europa League (C3) and the Europa League Conference (C4) recently won by AS Roma of José Mourinho who intends to recruit one of his former lieutenants, will adopt the same format as the Champions League. However, changes will be made to these competitions based on need and other details such as the number of matches and the number of teams.
Potential problems ahead
The reform of the C1 is supposed to adapt to the evolution of football. However, some parameters were not taken into account. We have for example the form of the players. The latter for a number of years have had to deal with the overload of their schedule. The sequence of all these matches leads to injuries as well as mental fatigue in some players. The fact that this new format of the C1 still adds a certain number of matches risks being really trying for the players who have been complaining for a long time.
Another issue raised by critics of this new format is that this system could favor the bigger clubs who already hold most of the revenue and trophies. This championship will indeed be beneficial to the top clubs which have more money and more players than the average clubs. Another point, the new format is quite similar to the Super League that clubs such as Juventus, Barcelona or Real Madrid wanted to organize. The reform is therefore, according to some cynics, a desperate or hasty way for UEFA to prevent the big clubs from continuing to think about the project. The institution would be afraid of no longer being able to exercise control over the most powerful clubs. This new Champions League is just another European Super League led this time by UEFA.
In the end, it’s hard to have a definite opinion on this new UEFA format. In a world that is constantly changing, a change is probably necessary. The concern is the fact that it comes after “the threat” of the big clubs who intended to create their own league. However, before this new format starts in 2024, UEFA has notified that there will be several decisions to consider, including a rebalancing of the participating teams, the dates of the matches, the distribution of the heads of series, the progress of the finals, the financial distribution, the coefficients, etc. We will therefore have to wait for the 2024-2025 season to judge the relevance of this new Football Champions League.