UEFA has reportedly considered expanding the Women’s Champions League over concerns the current format could stunt the game’s growth.
The competition was most recently expanded in 2021, allowing more teams a chance to compete with four groups of four and two qualifying rounds. Though this expansion happened only two seasons ago, the growth of women’s football in Europe has created a demand for a larger tournament, as well as a women’s equivalent to the Europa League.
Discussions had already started in terms of what a further expansion would look like, but with Arsenal and Juventus crashing out of the tournament in the first qualifying round, the pressure is on.
There are multiple options for creating a larger tournament. For example, adding more groups to the group stage gives multiple teams from each league a higher chance of competing, rather than one, two, or none at all.
The other option would be to change the current co-efficient system that determines how many teams are eligible to qualify for the tournament from each country, depending on the strength of the league.
When an expansion could come into place and how things will change are still up in the air, with no official moves to alter the tournament from UEFA or its key stakeholders. At the moment, only Chelsea has automatically qualified for the group stage from the WSL, with newcomers Manchester United hoping to edge past PSG in the second qualifying round in mid-October.