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  Friday, 30 August, 2002, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
New look Champions League
Europe's biggest clubs have reluctantly agreed to accept controversial changes to the format of the Champions League.

Last month, Uefa announced plans to axe the second round-robin phase from 2003-04 and revert back to a traditional two-leg knockout format.

The G14, which includes Manchester United and Liverpool, claimed they were not consulted about the planned changes aimed at making the Champions League more exciting.

And there was growing speculation that the G14 would pressurise Uefa into a change of mind.

However, at their general assembly in Monaco on Friday the G14 issued a statement saying their members had reluctantly accepted the changes "provided the commitment of Uefa to improve the consultation process with regard to any future change is fully respected".

At the same meeting, four new clubs, including Arsenal, were added to the influential body bringing the total number of G14 representatives to 18 - although the name will remain unchanged.

Arsenal's David Dein
Arsenal's David Dein joined the G14

The G14 also welcomed German side Bayer Leverkusen, Spain's Valencia and French big guns Lyon into their fold.

Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon, one of four G14 vice-presidents, virtually admitted the organisation had very little choice.

He said: "There is a sense of disappointment because in the UK audiences are still increasing and attendances at European games are still going up."

The changes to the Champions League 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.


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    See also:

    11 Jul 02 | Champions League
    23 Nov 01 | World Football
    24 Jul 02 | World Football
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