FAW Head of Competitions Andrew Howard was pleased to hear that there will be no format changes in either competition stating; "A few months back, articles were circulating suggesting that there may be a third-tier competition for the lower-ranked countries and our potential access into the Champions League may be blocked, so this news is very welcome.
"The beauty of the Champions League in its current format is that a fairytale story can come true. The gap between the club's representing the lower-ranked countries and the medium-ranked countries is closing and Ireland's Dundalk showed this season that the reality of such a dream is just around the corner - And let's hope it involves a Welsh club."
"We have only seen the UEFA Press Release so far, so we don't know how the Access List will work and we don't know to what extent the prize money will increase, but we do know that the new revenue distribution model guarantees an increase in payments to leagues and clubs who are knocked out in the qualifying phase;" Howard concluded.
On the day of the 2016/17 Europa League group-stage draw in Monaco, UEFA announced that "following an extensive consultative process involving all European football stakeholders, UEFA proposed amendments to the UEFA club competitions for the cycle 2018-21, as from the 2018-19 season.
The amendments have now been approved by the UEFA Executive Committee, upon recommendations of the UEFA Club Competitions Committee and the European Club Association Board.
There are no format changes to either competition; the approved amendments include:
• Retention of Champions and League route of qualifying in the UEFA Champions League ensuring that clubs from all associations can enter through their domestic leagues and qualify for both competitions
• The UEFA Europa League winners will automatically qualify for the UEFA Champions League group-stage (currently they can potentially take part in a play-off round)
• The top four clubs from the four top-ranked national associations will now qualify automatically for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League
• The full details of the access list for both competitions will be finalised by the end of the year
• Financial distribution to clubs will be increased significantly for both competitions
• A new four-pillar financial distribution system (starting fee, performance in the competition, individual club coefficient and market pool) will see sporting performances better rewarded, while market pool share will decrease.
• A new system for the club coefficients: clubs are judged on their own records (deletion of the country share for individual club coefficient unless that coefficient is lower than 20% of the association’s coefficient). Historical success in the competition will also be acknowledged in coefficient calculation (points for previous European titles with a weighted system for UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League titles)
• Creation of a subsidiary company which will play a strategic role in determining the future and the management of club competitions: UEFA Club Competitions SA, where half of the managing directors will be appointed by UEFA and the other half by the ECA.
Speaking about the amendments agreed for the new cycle, UEFA General Secretary ad interim Theodore Theodoridis said:
“The evolution of UEFA’s club competitions is the result of a wide-ranging consultative process involving all stakeholders and taking into account a wide range of expertise and perspectives."
“The amendments made will continue to ensure qualification based on sporting merit, and the right of all associations and their clubs to compete in Europe’s elite club competitions."
“We are happy that European football remains united behind the concepts of solidarity, fair competition, fair distribution and good governance.”
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