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By ESPN Staff

UEFA announce Champions League overhaul

UEFA have decided the Champions League final will be staged on a Saturday from 2009. The change follows pressure from UEFA president Michel Platini who believed staging the final on a Wednesday night prevented it being an occasion for families. UEFA's executive committee, meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland, decided on the change. The first Champions League final to be played on a Saturday will be in Rome's Stadio Olimpico the season after this. Wembley is on the shortlist to stage the final in 2010 or 2011. UEFA also confirmed changes to the format of the competition that will allow three Premier League teams to qualify automatically for the group stage of the Champions League. The fourth-placed side however will face a stiffer test in their qualifying round however as they are more likely to play against stronger opponents than under the current format. Platini's determination to see more champions in the competition, and more from lower leagues, sees 22 clubs qualifying automatically, including the Scottish champions. Five more places will go to the 15 leading countries in Europe, decided through qualifying rounds, and the remaining five reserved for the champions of the lowest 40 clubs.