Champions League Swiss Model revamp: All you need to know

play
Super League alternatives will appear due to 'desire from owners' (1:55)

Nicky Bandini and Mina Rzouki believe talk of a reformatted European Super League will return in the future. (1:55)

Now that talk of a European Super League has been put to bed, it's full steam ahead on the revamped Champions League format which will use the so-called "Swiss model" from the 2024-25 season.

It's going to be a dramatic departure from what fans are used to, so here's a full breakdown of what this means for football's top club competition.

- Marcotti: Why clubs abandoned their Super League plans
- Hamilton: How fan revolt helped cause Super League collapse

Why is this all happening?

More games equals more money, and the biggest clubs always take a larger slice of the broadcasting revenues. The top teams also want to play more meaningful games against their main rivals, which this should create at an earlier stage of the Champions League.

The tournament almost doubles in size, from a total of 125 games to 225.

At least four extra matchdays will be required to fit in the extra games (and up to six if UEFA continues to play the round of 16 over four matchdays). This is going to cause issues for domestic leagues, with fewer dates to fit in all their games.

England in particular, with a 20-team Premier League, two domestic cup competitions and FA Cup replays, is going to have to adapt and reshape its calendar.

But the burden of increased fixtures hasn't gone down well with some players at the biggest clubs, with Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan tweeting on Thursday: "More and more games, is no one thinking about us players? The new UCL format is just the lesser of the two evils in comparison to the Super League."

So what is the "Swiss model"?

Rather than teams being drawn into eight groups of four, as is the case now, all clubs are placed into one giant table.

It is based on the Swiss-system tournament used in chess, whereby each team does not play all of the others. The key difference is the chess format decides a team's next opponents after each set of games, whereas in the Champions League all group-stage fixtures will be known at the start of the season.

It has been used in football in other competitions with a large number of participants, including in the CONCACAF Nations League qualifying competition where all teams played four matches but the results were fed into one league of 34 nations.

How many teams will be in the new Champions League?

The number of clubs will be raised from 32 to 36. The new format means teams are guaranteed a minimum of 10 games, and most will play at least 12.

Where do the 4 extra teams come from?

1) The third-placed team of the league ranked 5th by UEFA will go direct to the group stage (at present, that club must play two qualifying rounds). Right now that's France, with Ligue 1 in a strong position but Portugal is closing the gap. Based upon league positions as of April 22, AS Monaco would be promoted to the UCL group stage. There is as yet no clear information about Ligue 1's place in the qualifying rounds dropping to fourth in the league, if so Lyon would be elevated from the Europa League on current positions.

2) An additional team via the "Champions Path" qualifying route, which features the leagues ranked outside the top 10 in the UEFA Country Coefficient. To give an idea of who could benefit, the losing clubs in the final qualifying round this season were Maccabi Tel Aviv, Molde, Omonia Nicosia and Slavia Prague.

Originally, this was to be awarded to the highest-ranked champions (by UEFA coefficient) not to qualify for the group stage automatically. However, UEFA changed this to make it a qualifying berth rather than coefficient-related which would have benefitted Shakhtar Donetsk in most seasons due to their own high club coefficient, but Ukraine's falling league coefficient.

3 & 4) This is by far the most controversial aspect. Two places are reserved for the clubs with the highest UEFA coefficient who fail to qualify for the Champions League. However, the club must have qualified for the Europa League or the Europa Conference League. A team cannot be elevated to the Champions League from a non-European place. Based upon league positions as of April 22, Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool would be promoted to the UCL from the Europa League and Europa Conference League respectively.

Why are two clubs getting places based on past performance?

This was all part of the negotiations between UEFA, the European Clubs Association (ECA) and Europe's elite clubs in a bid to prevent a breakaway Super League.

By reserving two places on performance over the past five years, it hands a lifeline to major clubs who have a poor domestic season. So, for this season it's Dortmund and Liverpool, but other clubs with a high coefficient who may benefit in the future include Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, AS Roma, Lyon and Napoli.

Due to the Premier League having a "Big Six" of clubs, and only four Champions League places, the odds are high that at least one place will be taken by an English club.

But they tried to form the Super League anyway?

Indeed, and when UEFA announced the new UCL format it said "potential adjustments to the format approved could still be made if necessary." So it could yet be that UEFA removes the two places for historical performance, which would be supported by almost all clubs left in the ECA.

From 2024 44 national champions have to battle through up to eight qualifying matches to try and earn one of just 5 places in the group stage -- yet there are 2 wildcard places for big teams who've had a bad season.

UEFA could now give these places to the champions of leagues with a lower coefficient, such as Czech Republic, Denmark and Turkey.

play
1:08

Manchester United fans break into Carrington training grounds

Julien Laurens explains why fallout of the European Super League has led fans of Man United to break in to the training ground.

How will they decide the fixtures?

UEFA will create four pots of nine teams, almost certainly based upon the five-year club coefficient. Each team will play a selection of 10 teams (five home, five away) from each pool to create a fixture list of roughly equal strength.

The teams in Pot 1 will draw two other clubs from Pot 1, three from Pot 2 and 3 and another two from Pot 4. Teams from the same association cannot play each other.

If we take the 2020-21 Champions League seedings, Premier League champions Liverpool could have a "Swiss Model" fixture list of: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Ajax, FC Salzburg, Olympiakos, Krasnodar, Lokomotiv Moscow, Stade Rennes.

So who goes through to the knockout rounds?

The top eight go directly through to the round of 16. Clubs placed 9th to 24th will go into two-legged playoffs, with the winners going through and the losers dropping into the Europa League. Clubs ranked 25th to 36th will be eliminated from Europe.

It means the team ranked 24th in the group stage, only good enough for an unseeded place in Europa League under the current system, could actually still go on to be European champions.

The competition then returns to the traditional format from the round of 16 onwards.

What about the Europa League and the Europe Conference League?

Both competitions will also switch to the Swiss Model from 2024, though at present it has still to be decided if the competitions will increase in size from 32 teams to 36.