Champions League knockout format set for significant changes

Champions League knockout format ‘set for MAJOR overhaul that will make it similar to a Grand Slam tennis tournament’ … with teams due to be seeded, the country protection rule scrapped – and the top sides will be kept apart until the final

  • The format of the Champions League is due to change from the 2024-25 season
  • The proposed changes will see it play out like a Grand Slam tennis tournament
  • Teams are now set to be seeded based on their performances in the group stage
  • Meanwhile, the country protection rule will no longer exist after the group stage

The Champions League is set for further radical changes to its format, with the knockout rounds to play out similarly to a Grand Slam tennis tournament, according to reports.

Europe’s elite club competition is due to move from 32 to 36 teams from the 2024-25 season, and it will adapt the ‘Swiss-style’ system used in chess, with all clubs placed in one table, rather than groups of four.

Each team will not have to play all of the other 35 clubs, and they will know their group stage fixtures prior to their campaign getting underway.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is set to make major changes to the Champions League

Chelsea are the current holders of the Champions League after beating Man City last year

Chelsea are the current holders of the Champions League after beating Man City last year

Champions League knockout rounds proposed changes

  • 36 teams enter the competition
  • Top 24 teams ranked after the group stage
  • Bottom 12 teams go out of Europe
  • Top eight teams are seeded and go straight into the last 16
  • Top two teams placed on either side of the draw – cannot face each other until the final
  • Teams ranked 9-24 play a knockout play-off round – winners make rounds of 16, losers eliminated from Europe
  • Teams from the same country can now play each other straight after the group stage

The top 24 teams will be ranked based on how well they performed in the group stages, with their path to the final pre-drawn, while the bottom 12 clubs will be eliminated from Europe altogether, as reported by ESPN.

The top eight sides will then be seeded, and will progress into the round of 16, with the top two teams drawn into opposite ends of the draw, meaning that they cannot face one another until the final.

Meanwhile, teams ranked 9-24 will go into a knockout play-off round to try to book their place in the last 16. It is understood that teams ranked 9 & 10, 11 & 12, 13 & 14 and 15 & 16 will be paired and placed in opposite halves of the bracket.

However, details regarding how sides ranked 17-24 will be drawn still need to be ironed out.

Once again, the losing sides in these games will go out of Europe completely, rather than dropping into the Europa League or Europa Conference League.

These proposed changes are yet to be ratified by UEFA, but moving to a Grand Slam-style format is preferred, as things stand.

Another alteration that is set to be made to the revamped tournament is the country protection rule.

Currently, teams from the same country cannot face each other until the quarter-finals.

This regulation will be changed in 2024, though, as the country protection rule will be discarded after the group stage.

The club protection rule will be scrapped, meaning Man City and Liverpool could face each other earlier in the competition

The club protection rule will be scrapped, meaning Man City and Liverpool could face each other earlier in the competition

UEFA still needs to decide on a back-up solution for games that are prohibited due to a political clash between countries.

The Champions League group stage is now due to be played across eight midweek rounds, and will be concluded in late January as opposed to mid-December, alongside the Europa League.

The Europa Conference League group stage will still finish in December, like it currently does.

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