New Champions League plan has TEN group games against different teams and forces English clubs to drop out of League Cup

THE proposed changes to the Champions League could see each team play TEN times in the group stage – which could spell the end of the League Cup.

Uefa are set to meet this week to discuss a radical shake-up for Europe's top competition.

The Champions League will see a new format in place from the 2024-25 season, with a number of options currently on the table.

One plan sees the current 32-team group stage split into four groups of eight, rather than the current eight groups of four.

There are two potential 36-team models as well.

Under one plan, there would be six groups of six in the initial phase, with the top two teams in each group and best four third-placed teams going through to the last-16.

But it's believed Uefa's current favourite method is the so-called 'Swiss system'.

In this more complicated scenario, teams would be assigned TEN opponents in one 36-team league.

All teams would be seeded, with a computer programme carefully selecting clubs of differing strengths to ensure parity across the board.

Under this system – first designed for a chess tournament held in Zurich in 1895 – all teams would play five times at home and five times away.

POTENTIAL CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP GAMES UNDER SWISS SYSTEM

POTENTIAL LIVERPOOL FIXTURES

Real Madrid (pot 1)

PSG (pot 1)

Borussia Dortmund (pot 2)

Shakhtar Donetsk (pot 2)

Ajax (pot 2)

RB Leipzig (pot 3)

Lazio (pot 3)

Krasnodar (pot 3)

Club Brugge (pot 4)

Rennes (pot 4)

POTENTIAL MAN CITY FIXTURES

Bayern Munich (pot 1)

Porto (pot 1)

Real Madrid (pot 1)

Barcelona (pot 2)

Borussia Dortmund (pot 2)

Dynamo Kiev (pot 3)

Inter Milan (pot 3)

Lokmotiv Moscow (pot 4)

Borussia Monchengladbach (pot 4)

Ferencvaros (pot 4)

*Both draws based on mock run-throughs from The Times

The top 16 teams would progress, with the club finishing first taking on the side who finished 16th.

Second would play 15th, third would play 14th and so on.

The biggest issue with this format would be fans struggling to understand how the games are allotted.

There would likely also be suspicions arising in certain supporters that certain clubs have been gifted more-favourable fixtures to reach the last-16.

However, Uefa are keen for this strategy to go ahead as it would mean four extra clubs competing in the tournament.

That would likely be good news for the likes of Holland, Belgium, Portugal,  Switzerland and Denmark.

At present, HALF of the 32 Champions League slots are given to teams in England, Spain, Germany and Italy – with France given three places.

That leaves just 13 places up for grabs for clubs across the rest of Europe.

The Swiss method is used in various tournaments around the globe already, most-notably in North and Central America.

On the proposed plans, one source told The Times: "The top clubs want more matches against other clubs from the top leagues and this provides it.

“Although it might be more difficult for fans to understand at first, another advantage is that the group stage should be much more exciting than it is now.

“Every match should be significant because every place in the top 16 will be valuable in terms of the opponent in the next round and in terms of prize money.

"There is also an incentive of finishing between 17th and 24th – as they would go into in the Europa League knockout rounds.”

Under the current format, eight clubs – the third-placed team in each group – drop down into Europe's second tier.

That appears to be the case in the Swiss system too – which means 12 teams drop out of Europe altogether, as opposed to just eight at present.

Uefa vice-president David Gill has now suggested this format could spell the end for English clubs participating in Europe from playing in the League Cup.

Gill told The Times: “The FA has already reduced the number of FA Cup replays, [but] what happens with the League Cup?

"That question has been around for many years, and can compensation be looked at to help the EFL clubs?”

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