UEFA plans closed-off Champions League with 8-team groups


Real Madrid players celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2018 Champions League final. (Matthias Schrader/AP)

GENEVA — UEFA is considering a proposal to change the Champions League in 2024 by creating eight-team groups kicking off in August, and narrow the entry path for teams from smaller domestic leagues.

Documents seen by The Associated Press propose 24 of the 32 teams in the 2024-25 group stage would retain their lucrative places the next season regardless of where they finish in national domestic leagues.

The proposal matches aims of the influential European Club Association, whose strategy is directed by several rich, storied clubs.

UEFA’s draft plan suggests four Champions League teams will be relegated to the next season’s second-tier Europa League.

Four entry places would let Europa League semifinalists be promoted.

Only four qualifying places would be left for national champions competing in preliminary rounds.

It would leave the Netherlands league runner-up — as Ajax was before reaching the Champions League semifinals this season — no route into the competition.

UEFA presented its plan to European league officials Wednesday, and later said details were "only ideas and opinions" in a year-long consultation.

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