From 2024, the UEFA Champions League will undergo its most significant format change since the rebranding of the competition in 1992, moving to a ‘Swiss-style’ group stage before the knockout stages. Much of the commentary around the reforms has focused on the increased volume of matches, with 36 teams in a single group now playing 10 group stage games each against 10 different opponents, generating 180 fixtures compared to the 96 today.
From UEFA’s perspective, the Swiss Model is a practical solution to fulfilling the objective of expanding the competition while still delivering a workable schedule. It enables flexibility in the number of matches played by each team, meaning that the size and length of the competition can be made to fit to the existing schedule, rather than the other way around. While the new competition, because of its increased size, is disruptive to domestic leagues, it is less disruptive than it would have been had the solution been to expand the competition using the existing structure by increasing group sizes or the number of groups.
The Swiss model is clearly a pragmatic way to deliver an expanded UCL, but its long-term commercial success hinges on the extent to which the competition excites fans. At Twenty First Group we specialise in quantifying the drivers of fan interest and commercial value: quality of players and teams, jeopardy of outcomes, and fan connection with the narratives.
As shown by the TFG Flywheel below, the combination of increased quality, jeopardy and connection can lead to increased long term commercial value for rights holders, and this is something that UEFA will be hoping to maximise with the Champions League restructure.