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UEFA coefficients, Swiss system and 2024/25 Champions League, Europa League and Conference League explained

The Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League are changing again for the 2024/25 season.

We look at the latest overhaul of UEFA's three flagship club tournaments and the implications for the Premier League clubs involved in the trio of competitions.

What is the Swiss system?

In short, a Swiss-system tournament is one where each team does not play all other competitors, in contrast to the current format where each team in a given group plays all the other teams twice.

The Champions League will increase from 32 teams to 36, with all teams entering the 'league phase'. All 36 teams will be drawn in the same league, with fixtures in this stage increasing from six per team to eight, with the same format applying to the Europa League and Conference League (though the Conference League will only hold six group stage matches).

Of course, this will mean that teams will only play selected opponents within the league as opposed to them all, and a draw will be made for fixtures prior to the competition's start.

Teams will still be divided into pots as per previous iterations, but they will be divided into four pots of nine, based on 2023/24 UEFA club coefficients with each team playing one home game and one away game against a team from each pot.

Once the eight games have been completed, the top eight teams from the league stage will qualify for the last-16. Teams finishing 9th-16th and 17th-24th will meet in a two-legged knockout, with winners then drawn against one of the top eight teams in the last-16. Teams finishing 25th-36th will be eliminated.

How do UEFA club coefficients work?

Each team in European competition will earn points each season depending on their performance, with the allocation of points applying for the last three seasons (a different allocation was used prior to the inception of the Conference League). 

Points are awarded for teams competing in the first qualifying round of all three European competitions onwards. Teams eliminated in the first qualifying round for the Europa Conference League will earn one point. Teams reaching the group stage of the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League will earn a minimum of four, three and two and a half points respectively, though for the Europa League and Conference League these aren't added to totals achieved for winning matches or qualifying. For example, if a Europa League team wins three group stage matches, they'll earn two points for each win for a total of six points (rather than six points for the wins and three points for participation).

Each group stage win earns two points regardless of the competition, while a draw earns one point. Knockout matches (except play-off rounds) earn the same points for wins and draws.

Winning a group is worth four points and two points in the Europa League and Conference League respectively, while finishing second is worth two and one points respectively. No points are awarded for winning a Champions League group, but five points are awarded for reaching the last 16.

One point is then awarded for reaching the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final of the Champions League and Europa League. One point is awarded for reaching the semi-finals and final of the Conference League.

For example, in the 2022/23 season Manchester United earned 19 points based on the following:

  • Group stage wins x5 (10 points)
  • Group runner-up (2 points)
  • Round of 16 participation (1 point)
  • Quarter-finals participation (1 point)
  • Knockout stage wins x2 (4 points)
  • Knockout stage draws x1 (1 point) 

In the 2022/23 season, Manchester City earned 33 points based on the following:

  • Group stage participation (4 points)
  • Group stage wins x4 (8 points)
  • Group stage draws x2 (2 points)
  • Round of 16 participation (5 points)
  • Quarter-finals participation (1 point)
  • Semi-finals participation (1 point)
  • Final participation (1 point)
  • Knockout stage wins x4 (8 points)
  • Knockout stage draws x3 (3 points)

How do UEFA association coefficients work?

UEFA association coefficients are used to determine the number of competition places allocated to each nation, and is based on that nation's collective performances in European competition.

For example, every English club's performance is added up and divided by the number of teams competing that year to give an association coefficient. The top nations will receive the most European places.

Where it changes slightly this year is that the top two nations from the 23/24 season will receive an extra Champions League place for the 24/25 season.

Prior to the knockout stages, England had a score of 13.625, lower than Italy's 14.000 and Germany's 13.642, however it is expected that the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Aston Villa will significantly add to England's tally and secure a fifth Champions League place for the 24/25 campaign.

Who gets the extra Champions League places?

With the Champions League expanding from 32 teams to 36, there are an extra four spots up for grabs.

As has been well documented, England could receive five Champions League places through the Premier League for the 2024/25 season. The top two performing nations in the 2023/24 season - most likely England and then one of Germany, Spain or Italy - will receive an extra Champions League place.

A third place will now go to the fifth-best-performing nation. At the moment, the top four nations (England, Germany, Italy and Spain) all receive four Champions League places, while the fifth and sixth (France and the Netherlands) receive three each. Whoever ranks fifth in the five-year coefficient (a measure of each association's clubs over the past five years) after this season will earn a fourth Champions League place

The fourth place will be an additional qualifying place for those going through the 'champions path'. At the moment, six teams qualify for the Champions League group stage via qualifying - four from the 'champions path' (made up of teams who won their league the previous season) and two from the 'league path' (made up of teams eligible for Champions League qualifying who didn't win their league, such as Rangers, Marseille, Braga and PSV Eindhoven). For the 2024/25 season, an extra place will go to the champions path.

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