UEFA announce Champions League changes

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European football’s governing body has confirmed teams from Spain, Germany, England and Italy will no longer have teams in the qualifying rounds of the elite club tournament

The top four ranked UEFA associations will receive four automatic Champions League group stage slots from 2018-19.

Currently occupied by the associations of Spain, England, Germany and Italy, teams from those countries will bypass the qualification phase during the UEFA competition cycle 2018-2021.

Teams from associations ranked five and six in the UEFA associations coefficient list will each receive two automatic group stage places with another team entering the qualification phase.

The Europa League winners will receive a guaranteed Champions League group stage slot as part of the changes announced by the European governing body’s ad interim general secretary Theodore Theodoridis on Friday.View image on Twitter

As part of the new measures, there will be new UEFA club association coefficient system with up to 20 per cent of a club’s coefficient number being made up from historic titles.

The Champions Path – initiated by Michel Platini in 2009 – will be protected while plans for a wildcard entry never materialised.

UEFA has also announced plans to significantly increase financial distribution in the Champions League and its sister Europa League with an eye on closing the gap with the riches on offer in England’s Premier League. A new four-pillar financial distribution system – based on starting fee, performance in the competition, individual club coefficient and market pool – will see sporting performances better rewarded, while market pool share will decrease from 40 per cent to 15 per cent.

Delegates from UEFA and their European Club Association (ECA) counterparts spent Thursday locked in negotiations in Monaco before hammering out an agreement.

The ECA – representing the top clubs in Europe and led by Bayern Munich’s Karl-Heinz Rummenigge – had made veiled threats earlier in 2016 about forming a breakaway Super League. That possibility would appear to be off the table.

A new subsidiary company will also be created to play a strategic role in determining the future and the management of club competitions – UEFA Club Competitions SA – in which 50 per cent of managing directors will be appointed by UEFA and the other half by the ECA.

The plans are expected to be finalised in time for December’s UEFA’s Executive Committee meeting.

Speaking about the amendments, 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.”

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