A new UEFA Women's Champions League is to be launched in 2009/10 with more entrants and a high-profile one-off final.
Changes to the existing UEFA Women's Cup, including the new name, were agreed by the UEFA Executive Committee today in Nyon. Launched in 2001/02, the competition currently runs with two single-venue qualifying group stages involving the champion club of the entrant associations followed by knockout rounds from the quarter-finals onwards, played on a home and away basis.
Extra home games
Under the new format, the UEFA Women's Champions League will include just one round of mini-tournaments, including for the first time the runners-up from the top eight ranked nations, with the qualifiers to join the top-seeded clubs in the Round of 32. From this stage the UEFA Women's Champions League will be played on a two-legged knockout basis, giving clubs more opportunity to have games at their home ground.
The other major innovation is the replacement of the two-legged final with a one-off decider, to be played two nights before the UEFA Champions League final in the same city, part of a week-long celebration of football. In principle, therefore, the first UEFA Women's Champions League final will be held in Madrid on Thursday 20 May 2010.
UEFA competitions director Giorgio Marchetti said: "The UEFA Women's Cup is UEFA's most important women's club competition and is top quality women's club football. We believe that by changing the format, as well as the name and brand identity, as part of a competition repositioning this will increase its appeal and position it in its rightful place alongside UEFA's top men's club competition, the UEFA Champions League."
Meanwhile, the 2008/09 UEFA Women's Cup is currently at the semi-final stage, scheduled for 28/29 March and 4/5 April 2009. Russian champions Zvezda-2005 will play two-time winners Umeå IK of Sweden in one tie and the other matches Olympique Lyonnais with Germany's FCR 2001 Duisburg. The winners will face off in the last two-legged final on 16 and 23 May.
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