Europa League changes to affect Tottenham next season and how the new UEFA format works

UEFA Europa League Ambassador Patrik Andersson draws out the name of Tottenham Hotspur
-Credit: (Image: (Photo by Harold Cunningham - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images))

Tottenham will return to the Europa League in the 2024/25 season for the first time in four years. And Spurs are likely to be one of the favourites to win the competition once the final lineup is completed.

A number of teams from across Europe have already qualified for the tournament, but there remain a fair few places still up for grabs, with qualifying matches to be played throughout June, July and August.

But for Tottenham - and everyone else taking part in European competition this season - the tournament will have a very different look next season. That is because UEFA have made changes to the number of teams taking part and the format being used.

The competition will be a 36-team event, as opposed to the 32 team tournament previously and there will be no group stages either. That means places at the top and bottom of the table will change hands week by week.

Here 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 Europa League, like the Champions League, will feature 36 teams instead of the current 32. Instead of group stages, there will be a 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 Conference 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 Conference 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.