A new UEFA Women’s Champions League format will be introduced from 2021/22, including a 16-team group stage as well as centralised marketing and TV coverage.
The change was agreed today by the UEFA Executive Committee in Nyon as the first direct outcome of the UEFA women’s football strategy #TimeForAction, which aims to double the reach and value of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
The change means a 20% increase in the number of matches, or a 39% increase excluding the first round which is played in the form of mini-tournaments, and gives the tournament more competitive games and increased visibility and quality. The new format was developed by UEFA in close collaboration with the clubs and the European Club Association and will set a new benchmark for an international women’s club football competition.
- The current knockout round of 16 will be replaced by a group stage, with four groups of four teams playing each other home and away. The top two in each group progress to the quarter-finals.
- Currently only the final is centrally marketed by UEFA, with the home sides responsible for all earlier rounds. In the new format and agreement, the media rights will be centralised from the group stage onwards, with UEFA producing every game for TV or online streaming purposes. Sponsorship rights will be partially centralised for UEFA women’s football partners from the group stage.
- In its first season, eight matchdays of the competition (two in Round 2, four in the group stage and both quarter-final legs) will be scheduled so that they will not clash with other major football competitions.
- The top-six ranked associations (as per the Women’s Association Club Coefficients at the start of the previous season, i.e. summer 2020 for 2021/22) will each enter three teams, the associations ranked seven to 16 will each enter two. All other associations have the chance to enter one team, being their domestic champion as before.
- The group stage would be preceded by two rounds, split into champions and league paths (as in the men’s UEFA Champions League) to ensure at least ten associations are represented in the group stage
- Round 1 will be played as knockout mini-tournaments with a semi-final, a third-place match and a final while Round 2 is played as home-and-away ties.