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  Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Champions League revamp
Uefa's executive committee has decided to scrap the second round of the Champions League from the 2003-2004 season onwards.

There will still be 32 clubs involved at the start of the competition once the qualifying rounds have been completed.

The changes mean the following format will be introduced the season after next:

  • Eight groups of four will compete in phase one of the new-look competition.

  • There will then be a two-leg knockout system for the last 16, the quarter-finals and the semi-finals.

  • To reach the final, a team will play 12 games instead of 16.

    Uefa president Lennart Johansson said the changes had been made with the best interests of the competition and European football in mind.


    We want to see a better balance in European football, a less congested fixture list
    Uefa president Lennart Johansson

    "We believe this reduction in the size of the competition is in the longer-term interests of everyone involved - clubs, players, fans, broadcasters, sponsors and European football in general.

    "It is not easy to change a competition which is recognised as the best club event in the world, but sometimes you need to act for the future.

    "We have been listening carefully to our stakeholders, and it is clear that there are a variety of views - however, we believe this is a moment for leadership in the wider interests of the game.

    Zinedine Zidane scores a brilliant goal as Real Madrid beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 to win the Champions League. final
    Zinedine Zidane helped Real Madrid to glory in May

    "As the European governing body, Uefa has to consider many different factors, both sporting and commercial, and at the same time think ahead.

    "We want to see a better balance in European football, a less congested fixture list for players and clubs and a flagship competition which has the right sporting mix and brand strength.

    "Changing circumstances in the commercial environment are important, but so is planning for the future and basing your competitions on public interest and long-term development.

    "We believe that this move will send the right signals to the whole of European football about how we can work together to tackle some of the challenges ahead," he said.

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    BBC Sport's Jon Myers
    "There will still be 32 clubs involved"
    Uefa spokesman Mike Lee
    "This will be important for the fans"
    See also:

    21 Jun 02 | Champions League
    Links to more Champions League stories are at the foot of the page.


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