Despite last night’s seismic The Super League announcement, UEFA have gone ahead as planned with their announcement today of the next (and also controversial) revamp of the Champions League, a revamp which undoubtedly played some part in the creation of The Super League in the first place.
Starting in 2024-25, the Champions League will be expanding to 36 teams, while adding a third continental competition known as the Europa Conference League, for teams who couldn’t even qualify for the Europa League. Further diluting the product will only play into the hands of The Super League, who promise big games between big teams every midweek instead.
In addition to expansion, the Champions League will also get rid of the now traditional group stage format, in place for the past 30 years since 1991 (with a few minor variations), and instead replace it with a “league” format — one giant 36-team division where each team play 10 of the other teams (based on some ranking and seeding “Swiss model” magic) and then the top 8 advance to the playoffs (while 8 of the next 16 also do after an extra playoff round — so 24 of the 36 “make” the playoffs). This means at least four (4!) additional midweek games for all teams involved (ten total, up from six for a group stage campaign), up to 17 total for the entire campaign, as if the schedule wasn’t congested enough already.
In further soft-Super League provisions, 3 of the 36 spots (or 3 of the 4 new spots, if you will) in the Champions League will be awarded based on “historical UEFA coefficient” — essentially meaning that “big teams” can still participate even if they have an off year and finish outside of the top spots in their respective domestic leagues.
As with The Super League, it’s (broadcast) money and greed (UEFA’s in this case) that’s driving these changes. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Choose your poison.