New Format for UEFA competitions


May 23 '96

Finally, some good news from UEFA to, at least temporarily, alleviate suspicions that the organization is being completely governed by money-grabbers.

In today's meeting, as an obvious sop to the less successful footballing nations, UEFA allowed for the possibility of the re-admission of the champions of all member nations to the European Champions Cup in 1997-98 - 3 years after half of them were excluded. The main difference in the new proposals is that the champions from countries ranked 25-48 in the UEFA Rankings will be re-admitted to the competition, albeit to a preliminary round also involving countries ranked 17-24. This means that every domestic champion has at least a nominal chance of reaching the money-spinning Champions League stage of the competition, which will be extended to 24 teams.

The following is the probable make-up of the 1997-98 competition:

Preliminary Round Qualifying Round Champions League Play-offs
July August September-December March-May
32 Champions from Countries ranked 17-48 16 winners from Preliminary Round

8 Champions from Countries ranked 9-16

8 favoured teams from Countries ranked 1-8
16 winners from Qualifying Round

8 Champions from Countries ranked 1-8
6 Winners and 2 Runners-up from 6 groups in CL

Of course, as happened this year, if the defending champion is not also its association's domestic champion, it will enter the League automatically, thus pushing one club out of each round (as happened this year to APOEL and Club Brugge this year as a result of Juventus's success). It is clear the idea of re-introducing the champions from countries 25-48 is a compromise between the current format and the recent controversial proposals (see below) to allow favoured teams from the top 8 nations to take part regardless of whether they win their domestic leagues or not.

Member federations have been asked to consider this new format and approve the idea, probably by July this year. UEFA could then put the final seal on the plan in August.

May 22 '96

In a meeting of its executive committee tomorrow, UEFA will approve the expansion in the 1997-98 season of the Champions' League to 24 teams to allow 1 club each from Europe's eight top-ranked nations to take part even if they have not won their domestic titles in the previous year. For more, click here.

March 21 '96

The only major change to next year's European Cup is that the eight losers in the preliminary round will be given automatic places in the UEFA Cup. The other changes detailed below will not take affect next year.

February 7 '96

At the Conference on the Future of European Football, a meeting between UEFA and Europe's top clubs held in Geneva today, it was agreed to dramatically change the structure of UEFA's 3 European club competitions. Foremost among the changes is the commitment to increase the number of teams taking part in the European Champions Cup from 24 to 32, Cup Winners Cup from 32 to 64 respectively and also to enlarge the UEFA Cup. This will allow 8 of the stronger footballing nations to enter more than one team in the former 2 - their champion (resp. cup winner) and one other team (see below). Another change will allow losing teams in the Preliminary Round of the Champions League to get another chance at Euro glory by gaining entry into the expanded UEFA Cup. The changes are seen as a compromise between UEFA's wishes and the emerging super-clubs' apparent wishes for some kind of Super League.

A number of details are unsure as yet. They include

Such issues will be addressed at a UEFA meeting in March. However, FIFA have expressed their opposition to the changes. More details can be found in the following pages:

The pre-meeting hype:

Reports on the Summit

Reactions to the Summit


© 1994-97 Colm Ó Riain