. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Champions Grows

GENEVA () -- The Champions' League will increase from 16 to 24 teams from the 1997-98 season, European soccer's governing body has decided.

UEFA, which dumped champions from smaller nations out of the European Cup two years ago, said Thursday decision to change the format means that all domestic champions will have a chance to qualify for the Champions' League.

It said Europe's top-eight ranked countries would also be able to enter a second team for the qualifying phase.

The current top nations who stand to benefit by having a second team in the competition are Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, England, France, Germany, Portugal and Belgium, although the list could vary slightly by the start of the 1997-98 season.