FOOTBALL MANAGER 2023 players have been left baffled by the new Champions League format.
From the 2024-25 season onwards, the group stage will be drastically revamped.
Rather than the current 32-team format featuring eight groups of four – 36 clubs will be entered into one giant league.
They won't face everybody, however, instead playing eight matches – four at home and four away.
The lucrative plans will see 189 games take place in the competition instead of 125.
Despite not everyone playing each other, all results will be entered into one 36-team group.
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The top eight will qualify automatically for the round of 16 – while those placed between ninth and 16th will be entered into two-legged play-offs.
Football Manager released the beta version of its 2023 game last week – and some players have already devoured their first two seasons to reach the 2024-25 campaign.
Only the most ardent of fans will have kept up to speed with the changes confirmed by Uefa bigwigs earlier this year – and those that didn't were in for a big shock.
A grab of the new-look 36-team Champions League group on FM23 subsequently did the rounds on social media.
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One fan responded: "Not sure what’s more concerning, the new UCL format or the fact people are in 2024-25 within 2 days of fm23 being out."
Another asked: "Sorry is this a bug????"
After looking through all the teams that had qualified for the 2024-25 edition, a third fan joked: "Looks awful but Arsenal in the UCL."
A bemused footy fan wrote: "What on earth is this?!"
One did defend the change, however, writing: "Chill out everyone, it's a format preventing teams ranking 2nd in their groups but performing worse than a team ranking 3rd in another group from getting through to next round.
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"With the new format only the best performing teams will be going through to next rounds. Fair enough."
Of the four extra group stage slots up for grabs after the competition's expansion – two will go to countries whose teams performed the best as a collective the previous season – giving Prem teams an opportunity to grab an extra spot.
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