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UEFA Changes Champions League, UEFA Cup

The European Football Union says it will open the Champions League to clubs from smaller countries and will add eight teams to the second-tiered UEFA Cup competition.

At meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland, the UEFA Executive Committee said there would not be changes to the main part of the Champions League. However, beginning in 2009, six of the 32 slots would be reserved for clubs from less competitive leagues to bring more countries into the tournament.

Also, for the first time the Champions League final will be on a Saturday in 2010 rather than its traditional Wednesday.

UEFA said three English, Italian, and Spanish clubs will automatically qualify for the Champions League beginning in 2009. Currently, only the top two clubs from each of those nations qualify.

Meanwhile, the UEFA Cup has been expanded from 40 to 48 teams. The tournament will now have 12 groups of four teams each with the top two in each group moving on to the knockout rounds.

Some information for this report provided by AP.