In a move that will surely only consolidate the power of the strongest leagues in Europe, UEFA has made a few structural changes to the Champions League qualification process.
The new rules come into force from 2018, and the biggest change to come from the new structure is that the top four qualifiers from Europe’s top four leagues – currently Spain, Germany, England and Italy – will now have four teams automatically in the group stage, removing their involvement in the playoff process.
As such, it grants an extra place to Serie A (or whomever is within that top four at the time) and means that half of the group stage allocations are taken up by that block of 16.
The talk of a European Super League had been growing louder over the past seven or eight months, so in many ways this is UEFA’s attempt to placate the biggest domestic leagues in Europe by working out a sort of compromise agreement.
In other changes, clubs are now to be judged on their own success in terms of coefficients, rather than relying on that of the league as a whole.
The winners of the Europa League are now guaranteed entry into the Champions League group stage – in the old system they would be put into the playoffs unless the Champions League winners had also qualified through their own domestic league.
And finally, in a move that could benefit the likes of Liverpool and AC Milan for the next time they qualify for European competition, historical success will be taken into account for determining club coefficients for Champions League and Europa League seeding.
The full list of changes can be seen below, and on the UEFA website.
- The UEFA Europa League winners will automatically qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage (currently they can potentially take part in a play-off round).
- The top four clubs from the four top-ranked national associations will now qualify automatically for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.
- The full details of the access list for both competitions will be finalised by the end of the year.
- A new system for the club coefficients: clubs will be judged on their own records (deletion of the country share for individual club coefficient unless that coefficient is lower than 20% of the association’s coefficient).
- Historical success in the competition will also be acknowledged in coefficient calculation (points for previous European titles with a weighted system for UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League titles)
- Financial distribution to clubs will be increased significantly for both competitions.
- A new four-pillar financial distribution system (starting fee, performance in the competition, individual club coefficient and market pool) will see sporting performances better rewarded, while market pool share will decrease.