AFC confirms clubs and schedule for its new two-tier Champions League

June 19 – The clubs for Asia’s new two-tier Champions League – AFC Champions League Elite and AFC Champions League Two – have been confirmed by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for the 2024/25 season.

Under the revamped structure 27 teams will compete in the ACL elite and 32 in ACL2, with kick offs for the preliminary stage for the Champions League Elite kicking off August 14.

Preliminary stage games in the West zone will see Qatar’s Al Gharafa play the winner of the tie between Iran’s qualifier and United Arab Emirates’ Shabab Al Ahli, while in the East, China PR’s Shandong Taishan FC will square off against Thailand’s Bangkok United. The losing teams will directly enter the AFC Champions League Two Group Stage.

Asian Champions League Elite, qualified clubs:

A key change in format for the Champions League elite is that the traditional Group Stage is making way for the League Stage. The 24 clubs will be split into two leagues of 12 teams across the West and East regions, with each team to play against eight different opponents – four at home and four away.

The top eight teams from each league will go into a round of 16 – played home and away.

From the quarter-finals onwards, all matches will be played in a centralised venue and there will be no regional East/West split for those ties. Saudi Arabia will host the 2024/25 and 2025/26 finals.

The 2024/25 finals will be played April 24 to May 5.

The AFC said it anticipates 1 billion football fans across its region will watch matches.
Clubs in the league stages will each receive $800,000, with additional prize money based on their eventual placings. The champions will receive at least $12 million.

AFC Champions League Two, qualified clubs:

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