The champions of Spain, England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, France and Russia will be in Pot 1 for next term's group stage draw, as confirmed by the 2015/16 regulations.
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Just four remain now as the UEFA Champions League truly gets down to the business end, but with many clubs already looking forward to participating next season, the just-released 2015/16 regulations make interesting reading.
A significant change in the regulations concerns the seedings for the group stage draw on 28 August. Previously, the pots were ordered purely by the coefficients of the competing clubs. Now, the top pot will be formed by the champions of the top seven associations – that is, Spain, England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, France and Russia – plus the UEFA Champions League title holders.
If the team that triumph in Berlin this June also win their own domestic championship, then the club finishing top in the Netherlands – the eighth-ranked association – will also be automatically seeded in the top pot.
The change was proposed in 2014 by the UEFA Club Competitions Committee before being approved by the UEFA Executive Committee. It is another decision that helps strengthen the hand of domestic titleholders in the competition.
In 2009/10, the path to the group stage was split into a champions route and a league route from the third qualifying round. That gave domestic champions a passage to the group stage where they would not have to play higher-ranked clubs who were non-titleholders.
The other three pots will be set using the club coefficient rankings, which UEFA compiles based on results over the last five UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League campaigns. More information about how the coefficients are formed can be found in Annex D of the Regulations of the UEFA Champions League, 2015/16 edition.