Champions League: Four direct group slots for top leagues from 2018

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Photo courtesy: El Ronzo/Flickr.com

The UEFA Champions League will see four teams from each of the top four European leagues to directly qualify for the group stages from 2018-19 season. This will be part of a host of changes which the European football governing body will implement in the competition for the 2018-2021 cycle.

The UEFA’s executive body will meet later this month, where the decision is expected to be approved. If the rule changes does go through, it will mean bigger dominance for the bigger leagues of the continent and could be a bad omen for the underdogs, according to ESPN.

Fernando Gomes, who leads the UEFA Champions League committee has been in the thick of things for the last six months, undergoing tough negotiations with stakeholders,. The stakeholders also included a number of clubs from the top leagues who threatened to boycott the competition if their demands were not met.

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The recent decision is believed to be a result of compromise as the European football’s governing body was able to stand firm on the other demands. One of the demands threatened to break away from the Champions League and form a different tournament called the European Super League.

A few other demands included terms of allowing clubs with “historic merits” to enter the competition every year, if they failed to perform well in their domestic competition. It also asked the Champions League to be played on weekends to increase broadcast audiences.

The rule changes will directly benefit the leagues of Spain, Germany, England and Italy respectively. The four countries currently top UEFA’s country coefficient ranking.

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The current rule allows the top three leagues to directly qualify three teams into the group stages of the Champions League, with the fourth team having to play a two-legged playoff. The fourth-ranked league is allowed two teams directly into the group stages, while the third team has to qualify through a playoff round.

The leagues which are not in the top four of UEFA’s country coefficient ranking, can improve if their clubs perform well in the European competitions.

Photo courtesy: El Ronzo/Flickr.com

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