Much has been made of UEFA’s new plans to change the Champions League in the coming years, with some saying that it will more or less resemble the much-criticised Super League.
Under those plans, the Champions League would take in an extra four teams into the competition, taking the total to 36. Instead of the usual group stage, there would be a league stage to start the competition involving ten one-off matches for each team. Their position after those ten matches in the 36 team league would then decide qualification for the second round, with the top 16 qualifying.
Two of those extra spaces have been dedicated to so-called wildcards. As reported by Diario AS, this would involve the two teams with the highest UEFA coefficients that did not qualify directly via their league position would be invited into the competition.
In practice, that means if the fifth-placed team in La Liga was one of those who had the highest two non-qualifying coefficients, they would then qualify as a result of their results in recent history.
That being said, those two wildcard positions will only be given to teams finishing in the place below the Champions League spots – sixth-place would not be enough to qualify regardless of the coefficient.
It is not yet clear when these changes will come into place, although time is running out for it to be implemented the next three year cycle of the Champions League, but in all likelihood, this would come into to place for the 2024-25 season.
Despite UEFA’s outrage at the Super League, this seems a clear move to appease Europe’s larger clubs by ensuring they have a safety net should they fail to qualify for Europe’s premier competition.