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Champions League rule changes to affect Arsenal next season and how the new UEFA format works

Arsenal will be in pot 2 of the Champions League next season regardless of whether they win the league
-Credit: (Image: Kristian Skeie - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)


Arsenal will once again embark on a Champions League campaign next season, hoping to banish the demons of this season. The Gunners were knocked out by old rivals Bayern Munich at the quarter-final stage and it is fair to say they will want to avoid the German giants at all costs.

Finishing second in the Premier League for the second year running, Mikel Arteta and his team will want to pick up some silverware after going trophyless in the last two campaigns. The Champions League may not be the easiest route to a trophy, but it is the biggest of them all.

However, there is a new format for this season's tournament, which will take some getting used to for supporters. The previous format of eight groups of four teams with the top two qualifying for the last 16 is gone.

Now, it is a 36-team tournament and it is one big league, with places changes hands every gameweek. Here football.london takes a look at the new format and the big potential rule change that could have a major impact on qualifying for the knockout stages...

How is the format changing?

Starting from the 2024/25 season, the Champions League will feature 36 teams instead of the current 32. Instead of group stages, there will be a 'Champions League phase' where all 36 clubs compete in a single league.

Each team will play eight matches in this phase, against eight different opponents. They will not face the same three teams twice as they do now. Four of these matches will be at home and four will be away.

The teams will first be sorted into four seeding pots to decide the eight opponents. Each team will then play two opponents from each pot, with one match at home and one away.

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How will teams qualify for the knockouts?

After each team has played their eight matches, the top eight teams in the league phase will automatically qualify for the round of 16. Those finishing from 9th to 24th will move to a two-legged play-off phase with the winners joining the other eight clubs in the last 16.

If you rank 25th or below you are out and will not have a chance to fall into the Europa League. The eight clubs who win through the play-offs will face one of the eight automatic qualifiers in the round of 16.

The knockout phase will then continue as it is currently.

Are there any rule changes?

Automated offsides will continue to be used, as they were in the 2023/24 campaign, so there's no difference there, with VAR also continuing as standard. Meanwhile, as mentioned above, the lowest eight ranked teams and the teams who lose in the play-offs, will not drop into the Europa League.

The major rule change will come into effect on the final day of the league format. to protect the integrity of the competition, it has been reported that UEFA are going to implement all fixtures being played at the same time.

That means that the final round of group matches will take place on the same day. UEFA are adopting the so-called Swiss system for the competition, with all 36 clubs competing against each other in one league table, so the final games will all kick off at the same time to ensure no team are given an advantage.

With added teams, the calendar will also be changing. Previously the tournament has gone on a break in the winter, with the group stages ending in December and the knockout matches starting up against in February. However, league games will continue into January with each team playing eight matches.

What about prize money?

An expanded competition means increased money on offer. Previously qualification for the Champions League was worth £13.4million to teams. Now it is worth £15.9million, with more money to be made from wins and draws throughout the tournament too.

Winning the tournament will be worth £70.2million, excluding money made from individual results in the league stage and broadcast share. The 2023/24 winners will take home £58.5million, plus money for wins and draws in the group stage.