KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP)The Asian Champions League is set to be revamped in the 2024-25 season as part of reforms that should add a third club soccer competition for the continent.
The marquee Champions League would be cut to 24 teams, instead of the current 40, playing eight guaranteed games in an opening league stage instead of six in a traditional group stage, the Asian Football Confederation said Friday.
The proposal echoes changes in Europe’s Champions League which take effect with a new, 36-team league stage in 2024 before the knockout rounds.
The changes aim to ”increase significantly the financial distribution to participating clubs,” lift quotas on foreign players who can be selected, and feature more games between teams of different regions, the AFC said.
The AFC foresees an Asian Champions League with 12-team league stages in each of the east and west regions. Eight teams from each region would advance to the round of 16 played over two legs.
A single central venue would then host the quarterfinals through to the final in single-leg elimination games, an AFC’s competitions panel has proposed.
The second-tier competition would have 32 teams playing in a traditional format of eight round-robin groups of four teams. The knockout rounds would be two-leg series until a single-game final.
A new, third-tier competition of 20 clubs would be in five groups of four teams, playing each other once in a centralized venue. Eight teams would advance to play two-leg quarterfinals to start the knockout bracket.
The names of the second-tier and third-tier competitions have not been announced.
The Kuala Lumpur-based governing body said the new formats proposal would create 287 games to sell instead of the current 274 combined for the current Champions League and AFC Cup. The plan must be signed off by the AFC executive committee.
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