The last three clubs that refused to formally withdraw from the Super League will be allowed to compete in the Champions League next season, UEFA confirmed.
Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus got their admission letters, just like all of the other Champions League participants, UEFA revealed. Last week, UEFA’s independent appeals body suspended disciplinary proceedings against the three clubs over their involvement in the Super League project. The investigation opened by European football’s governing body regarding the Super League plan was halted. The process stopped based on a court ruling in Madrid obtained by an entity called the European Super League Company SL.
“Admission letters have been sent to all clubs participating in next season’s UEFA club competitions today,” UEFA confirmed to Reuters.
Nine clubs backed off, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus are still in the Super League
Led by Real Madrid boss Florentino Perez and Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli, the Super League project was meant to put its founders to the next level in the “money league.” Six English clubs (Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, and Arsenal), alongside Spanish giants Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico, and Italy’s prominent trio Juventus, AC Milan, and Inter Milan were supposed to start a closed competition that would ensure income stays within this new clubs’ association and stops being filtered by UEFA.
All but the three of the “rebel” clubs (Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus) agreed to pay fines worth millions, masked as a contribution to UEFA development projects. They also accepted guilt over the Super League attempt in an open letter published by UEFA.
Their mass withdrawal was motivated by protests around Europe and UEFA threatening to exclude clubs from all European competitions. The national leagues and football associations in England, Spain, and Italy acted themselves, firmly stating that whoever leaves the international structure currently in place faces a home ban as well.
Champions League to change the format in 2024
The Champions League will adopt a new format starting in 2024. The competition will move to a Swiss model league, which will almost double the number of games in a season. From the 125 matches currently being played during a Champions League campaign, clubs will be involved in no fewer than 225 encounters per season.
The group stage will be dropped and replaced by a league where each team does not play all of the others. It’s a system borrowed from chess tournaments and which has been previously used in football too, most notably in the CONCACAF Nations League qualifying.
The number of clubs involved in the Champions League main round will go up from 32 to 36. Every team is guaranteed a minimum of 10 games, four more than in the present format.
Florentino Perez, Real Madrid’s president and one of the loudest voices of the Super League project, said “I don’t understand and I don’t support this change. And why in 2024? We must act fast, now, because many of the clubs will cease to exist by then.”
According to the new format, the top eight clubs in the main phase will go directly to the round of 16, while the teams placed ninth to 24th will enter a two-legged playoff to decide the other eight qualified. The 12 clubs outside the top 24 will exit the Champions League season with no chance of playing in the Europa League.
From the round of 16 onward, the Champions League format remains the same as it is today.