UEFA releases detail of expanded women’s club competition eco-system

December 5 – UEFA has released more detail of its reformatted Women’s Champions League and its new knock-out women’s club competition, both of which will come into effect with the 2025/26 season.

UEFA said that “both competitions have been developed with the aim of increasing competitiveness and maximising participation while also considering calendar constraints and player load.”

The Champions League will expand from 16 to 18 teams with clubs qualifying from their domestic leagues.

Teams will no longer play three opponents twice in a group format – home and away – but will instead face fixtures against six different teams in the league stage, playing half of those matches at home and half of them away.

To determine the six different opponents, the teams will be ranked in three seeding pots based on their latest club-coefficient ranking. Each team will then be drawn to play two opponents from each of these pots, playing one match against a team from each pot at home, and one away.

The top four sides in the league will qualify automatically for the quarter-finals, while the teams finishing in 5th to 12th place will compete in a two-legged knock-out phase play-off to secure their path to the last eight. Teams ranked 13 to 18 will be eliminated.

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said: “UEFA has placed huge importance on developing women’s football in recent years, making enormous strides thanks to a dedicated strategy, solid investment and a passion to ensure the game is open to everybody. The new UEFA Women’s Champions League format and the introduction of a second competition are further demonstration of this commitment and both will be exciting, competitive competitions that allow more players and clubs across the continent to dream of European glory.”

A key objective of the new women’s club eco-system was to build a second competition that would allow more clubs to compete in Europe and encourage further investment at domestic level, said UEFA.

Thirteen teams, the third-placed teams in the domestic league from UEFA member associations ranked 8-13 and the runners-up of associations ranked 18-24, will enter the competition directly while a second chance will be offered to the clubs eliminated in Round 2 of the Champions League as well as the runners-up and third-placed teams from Round 1.

The cup competition will be a straight knockout, played in parallel to the Women’s Champions League. It will feature a total of six rounds, Rounds 1, 2 and the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will of which will be played over two legs (home and away).

The winners will automatically qualify for the second round of the champions path of the next season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League, with one round to negotiate for a place in the league stage.

Nadine Kessler, UEFA managing director of women’s football, said: “The new format for the UEFA Women’s Champions League will reinforce the competition’s position at the pinnacle of club football and combined with the introduction of the new second competition, will further incentivise growth domestically and help us to build a strong and open European football pyramid that everyone can be proud of.”

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