Here’s How CPL Teams Will Qualify For The Expanded Champions League
Concacaf has formally announced the criteria regarding how clubs will qualify for the new, expanded format of the Concacaf Champions League slated to begin in 2024.
The new format will see the Canadian Premier League given two berths into the annual continental club competition: the first will go to the reigning Canadian Premier League champion, while the second will be granted to the regular season winner.
Conacaf had announced the expanded form of the tournament last year, revealing that three regional cup competitions also will be played in the fall of the year as a qualification run up to the Concacaf Champions League itself.
Canadian sides do not participate in those precursor qualifying cups, but rather qualify directly through their domestic play. It’s a twist from the existing pathway that saw Forge FC become the first CPL side to qualify for the competition through their Concacaf League performances last year.
The expanded version of the tournament will include 27 clubs play more than 50 matches before a champion will be hoist the trophy and qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup. The direct elimination knockout stages will feature five rounds consisting of Round One, Round of 16, Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals, and the Final itself.
The first four of these stages will include home and away matches, though the Final will be played as a single leg match on a weekend.
While five of the qualified teams will receive a bye to the Round of 16, both of the Canadian Premier League entrants will begin at the ground floor: they’ll have to fight through Round One alongside twenty other clubs.
Should a CPL side hold multiple CCL qualification slots, then the next CPL club which has accumulated the most regular season points will grab the remaining slot instead.
The berth awarded to the Canadian Championship victor, should they have qualified elsewhere, will be given to the runner-up. Should they also have qualified, it’ll then go to the highest-ranked Canadian Championship semi-finalist instead.
The Canadian Championship victor also enters the tournament in the first round of action.
With Canada having three slots (two for CPL, one for the domestic cup tournament) and with the three Canadian MLS teams also having an opportunity to qualify through the MLS berth, there’s the potential for plenty of Canadian influence in the reformed Concacaf Champions League come 2024.