Top Euro­pean leagues get four spots from 2018

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

UEFA an­nounced sig­nif­i­cant changes to the Cham­pi­ons League yes­ter­day with the top four Euro­pean leagues each guar­an­teed four places in the group stage from the 2018/19 sea­son.

Un­der the present sys­tem, the top three leagues — cur­rently Spain, Ger­many and Eng­land — have three places each while their fourth-placed teams must play off over two legs for a place in the group stage.

The fourth ranked league, cur­rently Italy, have only two guar­an­teed places plus one in the play­off round.

Uefa uses a com­pli­cated co­ef­fi­cient to de­ter­mine the rankings of the na­tional leagues.

The changes came after Europe’s top clubs had dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of form­ing a Su­per League, pos­si­bly even with­out Uefa’s au­tho­ri­sa­tion.

Uefa also stopped short of guar­an­tee­ing cap­tive places for cer­tain big clubs, an­other pos­si­bil­ity which, sources said, had been dis­cussed pri­vately in meet­ings over the past few months.

Sev­eral big clubs, such as Manchester United, Liver­pool, In­ter Mi­lan and AC Mi­lan, have missed out on this sea­son’s group stage after per­form­ing poorly in their re­spec­tive leagues last sea­son.

Uefa com­pe­ti­tions di­rec­tor Gior­gio Marchetti told re­porters that the for­mat it­self would re­main the same with a qual­i­fy­ing stage, fol­lowed by a 32-team group stage and then a knock­out com­pe­ti­tion.

Marchetti said that four places in the group stage, com­pared to five at present, would be set aside for the na­tional cham­pi­ons of smaller coun­tries who have to play their way through a qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

Uefa has been with­out a pres­i­dent since last De­cem­ber when French­man Michel Pla­tini was banned for eight years by global soc­cer body Fifa for ethics vi­o­la­tions, later re­duced to four on ap­peal by the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport (CAS).

Uefa will hold an elec­tion to find a re­place­ment for Pla­tini in Athens on Septem­ber 16. Michael van Praag, An­gel Maria Vil­lar and Alek­san­dar Ce­ferin, the heads of the Dutch, Span­ish and Slove­nian fed­er­a­tions re­spec­tively, are the three can­di­dates. — Reuters

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