The Concacaf Champions League will receive an expanded format which will begin with the 2023 edition.
Concacaf announced new changes to the annual tournament on Thursday, which will see an expanded group stage in the fall and a 16-team knockout round in the spring. The group stage will regionalize clubs from North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
North America will include 20 teams from Canada, Mexico and the United States with the teams split into four groups of five teams each. Each team will play a total of four group stage matches with two at home and two away. The top two teams will advance from each group, along with three more teams that will qualify via a play-in round.
“This is a hugely important development for Concacaf and for club football in our region,” said Concacaf president and FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani. “The Concacaf Champions League has grown impressively in recent years, but this new format will transform the competition and significantly increase its relevance throughout our confederation and globally.”
“It will elevate clubs and leagues throughout CONCACAF with more exciting regional matchups that we know fans want to see. It will also provide a very competitive pathway to the FIFA Club World Cup as clubs from our region strive to succeed on the international stage”
The current format of the Concacaf Champions League will remain in place for the 2021, 2022 and 2023 editions. Fall 2023 will see the group stage of the new format beginning, a new chapter for both the federation and its clubs.
Montagliani said he was not worried about possible fixture congestion in North America in the fall, and that both Liga MX and MLS were on board with the changes.
At least three of the 20 clubs from North America will hail from Canada, with two teams coming from the Canadian Premier League and another from the winner of that year’s Canadian Championship. The three Canadian teams currently playing in MLS could also qualify through MLS competitions.
Twenty clubs from Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama will comprise the Central American group. The teams will qualify through performance in domestic leagues as well as a new Central American Cup competition. The teams will be grouped into four groups of five with top two finishers from each group advancing to a play-in round from which four teams will advance to the final 16.
The Caribbean group will be made up of 10 clubs, eight of which will qualify directly through professional leagues, while the remaining two through a Caribbean Cup competition. The two group winners will qualify for a play-in match, the winner of which will qualify for the Concacaf Champions League knockout stage.
At least one qualifier to revamped CCL will be through the Leagues Cup competition while the Central American cup competition will replace the current Concacaf League.
Liga MX side Tigres is the defending champions after downing MLS side LAFC in last December’s Final.