UEFA sets out New Rules for Champions League & Europa League

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The Champions League and Europa League currently run in three-year cycles in which no rules are changed and the format remains the same – but next season brings the start of a new cycle, Squawka reports.

Previously, UEFA had announced changes to the qualification for next season’s Champions League and Europa League with more teams automatically qualifying for the group stages.

However, following a meeting of UEFA’s Executive Committee and the decisions taken by the International Football Association Board – football’s lawmakers – more changes have now been announced, with regards to the matches.

The standout change comes in regards to the substitutes bench, as now a fourth substitute will be able to be called upon in knockout matches that have gone into extra-time.

This rule follows the precedent set by the FA from last season in the FA Cup, and will not affect the other three substitutions.

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Additionally, in the Champions League final, Europa League final and Super Cup, teams will be able to name 12 substitutes (in a 23-man match sheet) on the bench, as opposed to the seven substitutes throughout the rest of the competition.

UEFA have outlined these three games as the respective clubs’ “most important fixture of the season”, giving the clubs and coaches more flexibility.

The changes have also brought alterations to the kick-off times for the group stages and knockout rounds.

From next season, the Champions League games will kick off at 8 pm GMT, as opposed to the usual 7:45 pm time. But, on every group-stage matchday, two of the Tuesday and two of the Wednesday matches will kick off at 5:55 pm GMT.

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All fixtures on the final group-stage matchday will be played simultaneously, though exceptions can be made by the UEFA administration – mostly regarding time zones.

The Europa League has also seen slight changes to their kick-off times, bringing them in line with the new Champions League times – from the current 6 pm and 8:05 pm kick-offs.

These changes will cover from the group stage until the round of 16, with all games from the quarter-finals onwards kicking off at 8 pm.

The final set of changes comes with regards to registration of players midway through a season, following the group stages.

From next season onwards, a club will be able to register three new eligible players without any restrictions for the knockout stages of the Champions League and Europa League.

This means players will now no longer be cup-tied for both competitions with a new club, even if they had played in it earlier in the season.

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Were the rules in place this season, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would have been able to help Arsenal in their quest to win the Europa League and Philippe Coutinho could be representing Barcelona in the Champions League, as two examples.

Finally, a slight change to the kits for the Europa League has been amended. Teams that have won the competition three consecutive times or a minimum of five times may wear a multiple-winner badge on the sleeve of their shirt – as Champions League teams already do.

The only team entitled to wear the badge next season would be Sevilla, who have won the Europa League five times – as well as in three consecutive seasons.

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