Report: UEFA to Expand Champions League to 36 Teams After Super League Formation

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2021

Bayern's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer lifts the trophy after Munich won the Champions League final soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020.(Matthew Childs/Pool via AP)
Matthew Childs/Associated Press

The UEFA executive committee voted unanimously to expand its Champions League from 32 to 36 teams in a new format set to begin in the 2024-25 season, according to Mark Ogden of ESPN.

The system would feature 10 group-stage matches for each team before the 16-team knockout stage, an increase from the six group matches played in the current format.

The decision comes amid 12 clubs announcing Sunday the formation of a breakaway Super League while resigning from the European Club Association. It would remove many of the biggest clubs in Europe—including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United—from Champions League competition.

UEFA President Alex Ceferin has condemned the latest announcement:

B/R Football @brfootball

UEFA President Alex Ceferin: "We are all united against this nonsense of a project ... The players that will play in the closed league will be banned from playing in the World Cup and Euros." https://t.co/soi7Zl7BC9

It has not affected the committee's plans for changes to the Champions League.

"We will do it with or without them," Ceferin said of the departing clubs.

Regardless of what happens in the Super League, the changes could provide more opportunities for smaller clubs to compete in high-profile matches with top teams in Europe.

Of the 16 teams that advanced to the knockout round in the 2020-21 version of the Champions League, 14 were from either England, Italy, Spain or Germany. The other two—Paris Saint-Germain and Porto—are giants in their respective leagues in France and Portugal.

An expanded league would add more teams to the group stage while providing more matches in a continental competition. It would also bring in more money for these teams because of the added viewership, although the removal of the biggest clubs in Europe could put a dent in that.