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Champions League expansion from 2024 gets go-ahead

UEFA today confirmed that their much-criticised Champions League expansion will be going ahead in 2024, but some concessions have been made following supporter lobbying.

The executive committee of the European football authority have approved changes that will expand the Champions League to 36 teams and re-organise the group stages into a single league.

From 2024 all competing teams will play against eight different opponents (four home games, four away) rather than the previous six matches against three teams, played on a home-and-away basis.

As well as dropping the proposed number of games to eight from the initially proposed 10, UEFA has dropped its controversial plans to allow two clubs to compete based on historical performance.

Led by organisations such as Football Supporters Europe, fans have been in dialogue with UEFA about the changes over the last 12 months – making clear opposition to qualification by historic reputation and urging for fairer redistribution of prize monies.

Instead, UEFA said today that those two additional places will be awarded to clubs from the countries that perform best overall in Europe based on their league performance.

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin said: “Today’s decisions conclude an extensive consultation process during which we listened to the ideas of fans, players, coaches, national associations, clubs and leagues to name but a few, with the aim to find the best solution for the development and success of European football, both domestically and on the international club stage.

“I am really pleased that it was a unanimous decision of the UEFA Executive Committee, with the European Club Association, European Leagues and National Associations all agreeing with the proposal made.”

Supporters have been lobbying against these plans since they came to the fore back in 2021 arguing that Champions League expansion could potentially harm domestic leagues.

Kevin Miles, FSA chief executive, said: “Supporters have been consistent in their arguments against any expansion of European competition that would eat into domestic football and attack our principles of sporting merit.

“Our persistence has paid off and has put the brakes on the worst excesses of Europe’s biggest clubs.

“While any increase in the number of games is a step in the wrong direction, it appears that fans’ input into the dialogue with UEFA has not been in vain – eight games is better than ten, and thankfully the offensive idea of ‘leapfrogging’ – where history, prestige and money triumphs over sporting merit – has been scrapped, hopefully forever.”

A meeting between UEFA executives and supporter representatives was held in Manchester earlier this month and supporters reiterated their opposition to the changes, particularly UEFA’s plans for an extra 10 games and use of the historic coefficient.

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