Manchester United are set to face a tough group stage draw in the UEFA Champions League next year if they finish in the top four thanks to new regulations.
Previously, clubs were seeded according to a co-efficient which took into account previous results in the competition but that will now switch, meaning only the corresponding league champions around Europe and the Champions League holders will go into the first pot.
UEFA’s new Champions League regulations have been published and state: “The first group comprises the title holder (top seed) and the domestic champions of the seven top-ranked associations in accordance with the access list.
“If the title holder is one of the top seven associations’ domestic champions, the group is completed with the champion of the association ranked eight.”
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said: “Football is about winning, it’s about competition, it’s about sporting merit. I think it’s kind of a natural thing to give to those who have won a competition a special treatment like this.”
This is the original format of the Champions League which became convoluted over time and although it creates a potentially tougher group stage for United if they reached the competition, it is a much better format that benefits the teams who win their corresponding leagues.
After all, a tournament called the “Champions League” should be focused on the clubs who are domestic champions, so this is a welcome change.