The top four teams from the four highest-ranked associations will enter the UEFA Champions League group stage from 2018 after new formats were confirmed for both major club competitions.
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The format for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 have been confirmed, with no changes to the compettions system but a new procedure for entries.
Following an extensive consultative process involving all European football stakeholders, UEFA proposed amendments which have been approved by the UEFA Executive Committee, upon recommendations of the UEFA Club Competitions Committee and the European Club Association Board.
- 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.
What doesn't change
- Retention of Champions and League route of qualifying in the UEFA Champions League, ensuring that clubs from all associations can enter through their domestic leagues and qualify for both competitions.
- The UEFA Champions League will continue to have a 32-team group stage leading to a 16-club knockout phase. Similarly the UEFA Europa League remains at 48 teams.
A subsidiary company will be created that will play a strategic role in determining the future and the management of club competitions: UEFA Club Competitions SA, where half of the managing directors will be appointed by UEFA and the other half by the ECA.
Speaking about the amendments agreed for the new cycle, UEFA General Secretary ad interim Theodore Theodoridis said: "The evolution of UEFA's club competitions is the result of a wide-ranging consultative process involving all stakeholders and taking into account a wide range of expertise and perspectives.
"The amendments made will continue to ensure qualification based on sporting merit, and the right of all associations and their clubs to compete in Europe's elite club competitions.
"We are happy that European football remains united behind the concepts of solidarity, fair competition, fair distribution and good governance."