The top four teams from the four highest-ranked European leagues will automatically go into the Champions League group stage from 2018, football’s governing body UEFA said Friday.
UEFA is also introducing a new access system for both the Champions League and Europa League to judge clubs on their own records including historical success in the competitions.
The new format, plus inceased financial distribution to clubs in both competitions, comes in reaction to pressure by Europe’s top clubs, who had been threatening a breakaway European super league.
At present Spain, Germany, England and Italy are the top-ranked domestic leagues and would be guaranteed four teams in the group stage under the new format.
Spain, Germany and England currently have three teams in the group stage and one in the play-off round. Italy have two in the group stage and one in the play-offs.
The full details of changes for both competitions will be finalised by the end of the year, UEFA said.