Uefa announces changes to Women’s Champions League and second European competition

Barcelona were last season’s Women’s Champions League winners

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A new format for the Women’s Champions League has been approved by the Uefa executive committee.

There is currently only the Women’s Champions League, which has 16 teams in the group stages, and there is no second-tier competition, while there are three men’s competitions, all run by Uefa.

The women’s competition has also come under scrutiny recently for the qualification system, which saw Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal’s European dreams come to an end at the hands of Paris FC on 9 September, less than three weeks after the Women’s World Cup final.

Arsenal had reached the semi-finals of the competition the year before, but struggled against the French side, before they exited the tournament on a penalty shootout.

Manchester United were also knocked out of the competition early, again in a qualifying round in October, and manager Marc Skinner was openly critical of the nature of the competition, as they exited at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain over two legs.

Arsenal reached the semi-finals last year, but were knocked out in the first qualifying round this season

Skinner said at the time: “There are teams going through to this competition [group stage] that are not good enough. Our standard is better than that standard, and it’s crazy that we have to play PSG at this qualifying round, crazy. And it needs to be something that’s addressed.”

From the 2025/26 season there will be an 18-team league phase, including three home and three away matches, followed by the knockout stages.

That season will also see the start of a second European competition for women’s clubs, although it is not clear if it will have a different name and set up to the men’s Europa League or the third-tier Europa Conference League.

The competition has not only drawn criticism for the way it is set up however, with Emma Hayes believing Chelsea were wronged by the referee’s decision-making during her side’s 2-2 draw at Real Madrid, with no VAR on offer until the latter stages of the competition. Although Uefa have indicated they intend to have VAR for all matches in the future.

Arsenal remain the only British side to have won a women’s club European title, when back in 2007 they lifted what was then called the UEFA Women’s Cup.

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