UEFA competitions' draws to be conducted by computer from now on

UEFA competitions' draws to be conducted by computer from now on
UEFA competitions' draws to be conducted by computer from now on

With the introduction of the new formats for UEFA competitions, the draw ceremonies will also look quite different starting from next season. This is reported by Sky Sports.

The upcoming expansion of UEFA's flagship competitions  the Champions League, Europa League, and Conference League  from 32 to 36 teams signifies a major shift in European football.

Starting next season, the traditional group stage format will be abandoned in favor of a single, unified phase where teams will compete in eight matches against a variety of opponents. This overhaul is designed to increase the number of games and ensure a wider range of matchups, potentially enhancing the competitive landscape and viewer interest across the continent.

The logistical implications of this expansion have prompted UEFA to rethink the draw process. Traditionally a manual and somewhat ceremonial affair, the draw's complexity will substantially increase with the additional teams and the new format. UEFA's assessment revealed that a manual draw under the new system would be a daunting, time-consuming task, estimated to take between three and four hours and necessitating around nine hundred balls bearing the names of the clubs. Such a process is deemed impractical for both organizers and audiences.

In response to these challenges, UEFA has decided to modernize the draw process by utilizing computer algorithms, starting from the next season. An English company has been tasked with developing the software that will facilitate this new-style draw. To maintain an element of the traditional ceremony, the initial selection of clubs will still be conducted manually. After this initial phase, the computer will then algorithmically assign each club eight different opponents, streamlining the process to ensure that the draw ceremony is condensed to approximately 35 minutes, maintaining the duration familiar to fans and stakeholders.

Moreover, the expansion of the Champions League has direct implications for national leagues across Europe, including the Dutch Eredivisie. Starting from the next season, the Eredivisie is guaranteed to send at least two clubs directly to the Champions League's main phase the champion and the runner-up while the third-place team will have the opportunity to compete in the preliminary rounds. This change is reflective of the Eredivisie's recent performances in European competitions and its standing on UEFA's coefficient list, which suggests a strong likelihood of continued Dutch representation at the highest level of club football in the 2025/26 season as well.

This transition to a computerized draw and the expansion of UEFA competitions mark a significant evolution in European football, promising to reshape the dynamics of the sport on the continent. The move towards technological solutions for logistical challenges, alongside the commitment to broadening the competitive field, highlights UEFA's efforts to adapt to the modern sports landscape while striving to keep the tradition and excitement of European nights alive.

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