New Champions League format explained for Man City as Real Madrid and Dortmund end era

The UEFA Champions League trophy
-Credit: (Image: Kristian Skeie - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)


Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid are set to play their final Champions League match under the current format tonight, as UEFA's controversial "Swiss model" is due to start from the next season.

This change will see the competition expand to include 36 clubs, doing away with the traditional four-team group stage in favour of a longer initial phase. This means more matches for teams and increased revenue for their clubs such as Manchester City.

UEFA claims the revamp aims to reduce the number of inconsequential group stage games, but critics argue it could further diminish the element of risk in the tournament. It will likely take a few seasons to fully assess the impact of these changes.

With the qualifying rounds just five weeks away, here's what we know about the new Champions League format:.

ALSO READ: Man City open New York City store after surge in US retail sales

ALSO READ: 'Sensational' - How four Champions League finalists came through City academy

The new structure will feature 36 clubs instead of the current 32, playing a total of 189 matches, up from 125, during an extended league phase that replaces the group stage, via the Mirror. Each team will have eight matches, four home and four away, against different opponents.

The top eight teams in the league will automatically advance to the round of 16, while those finishing ninth to 24th will enter a seeded two-legged playoff. Following this, the competition will continue as usual. In essence, there will be a larger selection of preliminary matches before reaching the last 16, requiring 160 games to determine the qualifiers.

The allocation of the additional four places has also been outlined. Two of the four additional spots have been allocated to the leagues with the highest total coefficient from the previous season - however, because of their performances this season, Premier League teams missed the chance to clinch a fifth place.

France's Brest, who finished third in the league with the fifth-highest coefficient, received one of the remaining spots. Additionally, Lille, who secured fourth place in Ligue 1, has gained a qualifying spot.

The fourth new space has been reserved for an extra team from the "champions path" side of the qualifiers.

Why the changes?

Basically, it's down to finances. More games lead to more revenue, though the prospect of additional fixtures is likely to prompt eye-rolls from both players and head coaches.

Extra games mean broadcasters must pay more. Clubs will see an increase in gate receipts, while sponsors face higher costs for enhanced opportunities to showcase their logos to millions of viewers.

Currently, the Champions League generates around €3.6bn (£3.1bn) per season. Giorgio Marchetti, UEFA's competition director, noted at the beginning of this season: "We are working on [both] conservative and more optimistic projections in a range I would say between €4.6billion and €4.8bn."

Yet, exactly how the funds will be distributed remains unclear, as discussions on this facet are still underway. As it stands, 28 of the 36 spots for the league phase have already been filled. They include:.

England: Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa.

Spain: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Girona, Atletico Madrid

Germany: Bayer Leverkusen, Stuttgart, Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund

Italy: Inter Milan, Milan, Juventus, Atalanta, Bologna

France: Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco, Brest

Netherlands: PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord

Portugal: Sporting CP, Benfica

Belgium: Club Brugge

Scotland: Celtic

Austria: Sturm Graz.