UEFA have confirmed a restructure to the Champions League – including changing the kick-off times and guaranteed entry to the group stages.
But under new rules sanctioned today ahead of the 2018/19 season, the top four from England – as well as Spain, Italy, and Germany – will gain direct qualification into the group stages.
The tournament will also now have two new kick-off times, with the traditional 7.45pm kick-off being replaced by 5.55pm and 8 pm.
Winning the Champions League – or Europa League – will also guarantee entry into the last 32.
However, if two teams who finish outside England’s top four win those competitions, then the fourth-placed team would drop into the Europa League.
The rules for automatic qualification read:
There will now be 26 teams automatically qualified.
For 2018/19 they will be…
UEFA Champions League holders (1)
UEFA Europa League holders (1)
Top four from associations ranked 1st to 4th: Spain, Germany, England, Italy (16)
Top two from associations ranked 5th and 6th: France, Russia (4)
Champions of associations ranked 7th to 10th: Portugal, Ukraine, Belgium, Turkey (4)
There will also be six other qualifiers – four champions of their domestic league, two ‘non-champions’ – to make up the group stages.
The teams who finish fifth and sixth in the Premier League are also guaranteed a spot in the Europa League group stages.
The 2019 Champions League final will be played in Madrid, Spain, on June 1.
UEFA also announced that Video Assistant Referee will not be used in the Champions League and the Europa League
But Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said: “Fans see the VAR screen all the time but nobody knows how it works.”
He added: “We will not use it in the Champions League next season.
“For me, it might be a good project but we shouldn’t rush it.”
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (sport)