European club football governing body, UEFA, have handed Premier League clubs a huge boost by guaranteeing them automatic entry into the group stages of the Champions League.
The implication of the new rule is that all four qualified English teams will now be given a direct route into the Champions League group stages alongside clubs from Italy, Germany and Spain, as well as the current holders of the European Cup and the Europa League.
Also part of the new rules is the scraping of traditional kick-off times in the Champions League starting from next season.
European football’s governing body have announced that from the 2018/19 season, start times will be shuffled between 5.55pm and 8pm, similar to the current Europa League format.
A further two teams from the Premier League, Seire A, La Liga and Bundesliga will also qualify directly for the Europa League group stages as well as two from France.
But sides from lesser leagues will still have to play off.
This means that from next season, the top six will all be guaranteed a place in both European competition’s group stage and will not have to play a two-legged qualifier.
The lack of qualifying rounds is a huge boost for English sides who have seen themselves navigate tricky ties in order to qualify for the tournament over the years.
Despite finishing fourth, this term Liverpool had to overcome German side Hoffenheim in the qualifying rounds this season.
Also part of the new rules, UEFA president, Aleksander Ceferin, revealed there will be no use of VAR in next season’s Champions League.
“Fans see the VAR screen all the time but nobody knows how it works,” he said.
“We will not use it in the Champions League next season. For me, it might be a good project but we shouldn’t rush it.”
The European football governing body also revealed more teams will directly qualify for the group stages, with 26 in total compared to 22 from this season.
Now, only six teams will gain entry via the qualifying round opposed to 10 this term, but this format will still remain a mini knockout tournament.
Their final change sees more clubs trickle down into the Europa League from the group stages, with 10 sides now playing in Europe’s second club competition.
17 teams will qualify for the tournament directly through domestic league postitions and a further 21 clubs will make it through the normal qualifying route.