Champions League Drop 7.45pm Kick-Offs

  • Champions League Drop 7.45pm Kick-Offs

Champions League Drop 7.45pm Kick-Offs

These changes are good news for the Irish teams, who up to now have had to win a game in Champions League qualifying in order to go into Europa League qualifying after a defeat.

Starting from next season, matches will start at 5:55pm (GMT/BST) and 8pm - similar to how it works in the Europa League.

Chief among those changes for the Champions League is the increase in teams going straight into the group stage, with the allocation increasing by four.

Three Scottish sides will be among those competing for 13 qualifying places available to non-champions in the Europa League group stage.

Ten teams also enter the group stage direct from the Champions League: six teams eliminated in the league path and four teams eliminated in the champions path play-offs.

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That goes for the top four leagues in the continent so Spain, Germany and Italy are also included meaning the Premier League is far from under threat of losing their fourth spot as France sit quite far behind in fifth.

There will be 26 teams who qualify automatically for the group stage, with two from France and Russian Federation as well as the champions of Portugal, Ukraine, Belgium, Turkey, the Europa League winners and the holders making up the rest.

- 26 teams (rather than 22) now gain direct entry into group stages, which includes competition winners.

The Champions League is synonymous with midweek evening games, with most games having always kicked off at 7.45pm GMT/BST time.

But while the European football governing body will not be altering the competition from the group stages onwards, UEFA have introduced preliminary rounds to run before the first qualifying phase begin. Under the previous regulations, the champion of the competition received a place in the round of the playoffs of Champions League qualification.

That took them back into the four Champions League places and they stayed there after Chelsea lost 2-1 at United.