Top LEN officials convened today in Belgrade, the site of the Champions League Final-8 to confirm changes to major international club tournaments for the 2023/2024 season.
As reported two weeks ago, changes to the format of the Champions League and other major European competitions is now set in stone.
A new 12 team ‘wild card’ system is now in operation, whereby the winners of the national championships from the top 11 Nations-Clubs ranked countries will gain automatic qualification to the preliminary round, so long as they meet the necessary criteria. As for the 12th ‘wild card’, it is allocated to the runner up in the country of this year’s Champions League winner. Therefore if Novi Beograd were to lift the Champions League title tomorrow, Crvena Zvezda would gain an automatic place in the Champions League. If Recco wins, the honour would then fall to Brescia.
A full summary of the key changes is available below.
Men’s Champions League:
- The Final Eight format will be replaced by a Final Four format, which will be played over three days.
- The future host of the Final Four will no longer receive automatic qualification.
- The Group Stage will consist of four groups of four teams each, with the top two teams from each group qualifying. The 3rd and 4th ranked teams can continue in the Euro Cup Round of Sixteen. This will be followed by a Quarter-final Round with two groups of four teams each, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the Final Four.
- Wild cards will be given to nations ranked 1st to 11th, with one wild card per country.
- Four additional teams can qualify for the Group Stage through a single qualification round played in four groups. The winners of each group will advance to the Champions League Group Stage.
- The top three ranked clubs from national leagues can enter the competition.
- The season will commence on September 8-10.
- The Group Stage will run from late September to early December, while the Quarter-Final Round will take place from early March to mid-May.
- The Final Four is scheduled to be held on June 6-8, 2024.
- The winning team will receive €50,000 and a free wild card for the following season.
Women’s Champions League:
- Federations ranked 1st to 6th can enter this competition, with the top five ranked clubs from their respective national leagues.
- The Group Stage will consist of four groups of four teams each, played on a home-and-away basis, providing better promotion and fan engagement opportunities for the clubs.
- The four group winners will qualify for the Final Four.
- The Final Four is scheduled to take place on April 20-21.
Men’s Euro Cup:
- There will be fewer qualification tournaments held at a single venue.
- The Preliminary Round will be played on a home-and-away basis, offering better promotion opportunities for the teams.
- A Final Four tournament will be introduced in the men’s event.
- The Final Four is scheduled to be held on May 17-18, 2023.
Women’s Euro Cup:
- The top eight non-qualifying clubs from the Champions League will participate in this event.
- The Group Stage will consist of two groups of four teams each, played on a home-and-away basis. The top two ranked sides from each group will qualify for the Final Four, reintroducing the F4 format.
- The Final Four is scheduled to take place on April 13-14, 2024.
Men’s Challenger Cup:
- The Men’s Challenger Cup will serve as a development tool for developing Water polo countries.
- Federations ranked 13th or lower can enter up to four clubs per National Federation (NF).
- The Quarter-finals, Semi-finals, and Finals will be played on a home-and-away basis, similar to the previous season.
- The Finals are scheduled for April 6 and 27, 2024.
Women’s Challenger Cup:
- A Women’s Challenger Cup will be launched starting in September.
- Federations ranked 7th or lower can enter up to four clubs per NF.
- The Qualification Round will be played in two groups, with the winners advancing to the final.
- The Finals will be played on a home-and-away basis, with dates set for November 4 and 25, 2023.