The changes follow extensive discussions with EHF stakeholders including clubs, leagues, players and commercial partners.
From the 2020/21 season, fans will have an ‘appointment to view’ each week, and with no overlap of men’s and women’s top competitions, TV partners will have better scheduling options in the future.
The reforms of the EHF club competition system follow the expansion to 24 teams of the EHF EURO, the federation’s flagship men’s national team competition, from 2020.
The first major change features both the men’s and the women’s EHF Champions League which will be played in a 16-team format, starting directly at the group phase played in a round-robin league format, with no qualification rounds or tournaments before.
The top four teams in each group will qualify directly for the quarter-finals with teams finishing in seventh and eighth place eliminated. The four remaining teams from each group (3rd-6th) will qualify for a play-off round, before progressing to the quarter-finals and then the EHF FINAL4.
Men’s EHF Champions League games will be played on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, with the weekends set-aside for Women’s EHF Champions League games.
The second major change sees a new name and a new format for Europe’s second tier of competition with both the Men’s and Women’s EHF Cup becoming the ‘Men’s or Women’s, European Handball League’ respectively. Both competitions will be played in the same format – with the women’s competition having fewer teams, but a final four format for the first time.
In the men’s competition, qualification will be played on a home and away basis with 12 teams qualifying for the group phase and 12 additional teams seeded directly to the group phase, making a total of 24 teams competing in four groups of six teams. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the last 16, leading to the quarter-final knock-out stage and then a final four.
Games in the Men’s European Handball League will be played on Tuesday evenings, with an option for selected matches on Wednesdays, while Women’s European Handball League games will be played at set times on Saturdays and Sundays.
In the final major change, the third-tier EHF Challenge Cup becomes the new ‘EHF Cup’. Ties will be played on a home and away knock-out basis, with 32 teams competing in both the men’s and women’s competitions from the third round onwards. The qualifying 16 teams will then play a Last 16 round, quarter-finals and semi-finals with the final itself continuing to be played on a home and away basis. All games will be played at weekends.