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What the new Champions League format means for EPL teams



What the new Champions League format means for EPL teams

The new Champions League structure set to take effect from the next season, has a little-known rule that has gone unnoticed and it could potentially affect English Premier League clubs.

The new format could potentially pit two EPL teams against the other in the tournament’s opening round.

The current group stage format, featuring 32 clubs divided into eight groups of four teams, will give way to a revamped 36-team league phase. Under the new system, the draw at the onset of the season will distribute 36 teams into four pots of nine each.

Pot 1 will comprise the reigning Champions League titleholders and the top eight clubs with the best coefficients. Pots 2 to 4 will be arranged based on club coefficient rankings. Each club will be paired to play two teams from each pot, one at home and one away.

Consequently, clubs in Pot 1 could potentially face each other, a departure from the existing format.

While clubs from the same association typically avoid being drawn against each other, a provision exists to break any deadlock. Leagues boasting four or more representatives, such as the Premier League, could encounter one another to ensure the smooth progression of the draw.

Teams finishing within the top eight positions will secure direct berths into the round of 16.

Those positioned between ninth and 24th will contest in playoffs to clinch the remaining eight spots in the subsequent phase. Meanwhile, teams ranked from 25th to 36th will bow out of European competition altogether.

Unlike previous iterations, there will be no country protection in the knockout stage, implying that Premier League sides might find themselves facing off against each other.

Moreover, a departure from tradition sees teams eliminated from Europe altogether after the league phase, with no relegation to the Europa League. Subsequently, a single knockout round draw from the Champions League round of 16 will determine teams’ seeding based on their league-phase performance.