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Women's Champions League to get group stage

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Last Updated: 04/12/19 6:01pm

Katrine Veje in Women's Champions League round of sixteen action for Arsenal in October

The Women's Champions League will feature a group stage for the first time in 2021-22, UEFA has announced.

Europe's top club competition for women will feature a 16-team group stage comprised of four groups of four from 2021 onwards, with the top two teams in each group qualifying for the quarter-finals.

It was also announced that the top six national associations in the UEFA rankings - including England - would go from two places to three in the competition from the same season.

UEFA said the decision had been taken to "boost competitiveness" and "increase exposure" at the top level of the women's club game in Europe.

Arsenal Women are into the Champions League quarter-finals this season

Arsenal have welcomed the development. "We're pleased with this move and that the strength of the Women's Super League will be recognised with three places in the competition," the club said in a statement.

Arsenal Women have qualified for the quarter-finals of this season's competition after surviving two knockout rounds.

UEFA's competitions director Giorgio Marchetti said: "We expect the Women's Champions League to take off. There is a clear increase of interest in the women's game.

"It's been a long process, and we pushed (a change of format) back a few years ago because we felt that the conditions were not met yet.

"But now we see that with the investment of UEFA, the national associations and the clubs that the game is growing, there is more interest from the market and the media and the time is right to do for women what many years ago was done for men."

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