Everything you need to know about the UEFA Champions League new format


The body governing football in Europe, UEFA has announced its new format for its club competition that will kick off next season (2024/25).

The body made the announcement in a 105-second video on its official X account on Monday, March 4, 2024. According to the body, the new format will have 36 teams as against the usual 32 teams that always participate in the competition.

UEFA's President, Alexsandr Ceferin confirmed in a press statement that was released on the official website. According to him, this decision shows that European clubs are united when it comes to decision-making.

"UEFA has clearly shown that we are fully committed to respecting the fundamental values of sport and to defending the key principle of open competitions, with qualification based on sporting merit, fully in line with the values and solidarity-based European sports model. I am really pleased that it was a unanimous decision of the UEFA Executive Committee, with the European Club Association, European Leagues and national associations all agreeing with the proposal made. Another proof that European football is more united than ever.”

What will the new Champions League format look like from 2024/25?

The major change in this new format is the exit of this current format’s group stage system. The present Champions League group stage includes 32 participants divided into eight groups of four. From the 2024/25 season, 36 clubs will participate in the Champions League league phase (former group stage), which gives room for four more sides. Those 36 clubs will participate in a single league competition, under the new format, teams will play eight matches in the new league phase (former group stage). Each club will face against eight different teams, playing half of those matches at home and half of them away. To determine the eight different opponents, the teams will initially be ranked in four seeding pots. Each team will then be drawn to play two opponents from each of these pots, playing one match against a team from each pot at home, and one away.

How will UEFA pick the four extra spots?

Qualification for the Champions League will continue to be open and depend on a club’s final position in the previous season’s domestic league competition combined with each association’s position in the association club coefficient ranking. The basis of the access list will remain the same as for the current season, and the additional four slots available in 2024/25 will be allocated as follows:

Slot One: This place will go to the club ranked third in the championship of the association in fifth position in the access list, which is determined by the UEFA Association club coefficient ranking.

Slot Two: This place will be awarded to a domestic champion by extending from four to five the number of clubs qualifying via the Champions path of the competition’s qualifying process, which will consist of four qualifying rounds.

Slots Three and Four: These places will go to the associations with the best collective performance by their clubs in the previous season (i.e. the association club coefficient of the previous season, which is based on the total number of club coefficient points obtained by each club from an association divided by the number of participating clubs from that association). Those two associations will each earn one automatic place in the league phase (‘European Performance Spot’) for the club ranked next-best in their domestic league behind those clubs that have already qualified directly for the league phase.

How will teams qualify for the Champions League knockout phase?

The top eight sides in the league will qualify automatically for the round of 16, while the teams finishing in 9th to 24th place will compete in a two-legged knock-out phase play-off to secure their path to the last 16 of the competition. Teams that finish 25th or lower will be eliminated, with no access to the UEFA Europa League.

The teams which finished between 9th and 16th will be seeded in the knockout phase play-off draw, meaning they will face a team placed 17th to 24th – with, in principle, the return leg at home. The eight clubs which prevail in the knockout phase play-offs will then progress to the round of 16, where they will each face one of the top-eight finishers, who will be seeded in the round of 16.

The competition will continue to follow its existing format of knockout from the Round of 16 down to the final which will be played at a neutral venue selected by UEFA.

What will be the format of the Europa and Conference League?

The teams in the UEFA Europa League will play eight matches and therefore eight different opponents in the league format and the UEFA Europa Conference League, which will be called the UEFA Conference League as of 2024/25 (six matches and therefore six different opponents in the league phase), with both competitions also featuring 36 teams in the league phase.