KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia ( Associated Press) – The Asian Champions League will be renewed for the 2024-25 season as part of reforms that will add a third continental club tournament.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) detailed on Friday that the main Asian Champions League will be reduced from the current 40 to 24 teams, with eight games guaranteed in the first stage instead of six in the first stage.
The proposal mimics changes to the European Champions League which will take effect in 2024 with a new 36-club stage before the knockout stages.
The AFC said the changes were intended to “significantly increase the financial disbursement for participating clubs”, eliminate quotas for foreign players, and offer more matches between clubs from different regions.
The AFC envisions an Asian Champions League with 12-team league stages in each of the East and West zones. The eight representatives from each region will advance to the Round of 16 with round-trip matches.
The single-game elimination quarter-finals will be played at a single venue, as proposed by the AFC Competition Panel.
A second-level tournament will feature 32 clubs in a round-robin format of eight groups of four teams each. The knockout stage will be composed of a round-trip series of games leading up to a single-match final.
A new 20-club third-tier tournament will have a format of five groups of four teams each, playing each other at a centralized venue. The eight teams at the start of the knockout stage will advance to the two-stage quarterfinals.
The names of the second and third tier tournaments have not been released.
The Kuala Lumpur-based governing body clarified that the proposed new format would create 287 matches instead of the 274 currently contested in the Asian Champions League and AFC Cup jointly. The plan would still need to be approved by the AFC Executive Committee.