Manchester City midfielder Jill Scott believes a group stage in the UEFA Women’s Champions League will be a welcome addition to the game.
UEFA recently revealed that the competition will change its format from the 2021/22 season onwards, with the last 16 stage to become four groups of four teams, instead of the current knockout format.
The change will also see the top-six ranked associations awarded an extra qualification place, meaning they can enter three teams rather than two into the competition.
And Scott, who has been part of a City side who have been dumped out of Europe in the early knockout phases in the last two seasons, believes the change will have positive consequences on the overall health of the women’s game.
“People have been saying about getting group games in there so that it would be similar to the men’s game,” she said. “I know that’s something that’s been welcomed for a while, so why not?
“We’ve had Atletico Madrid very early on in the competition both times. It’s been difficult but you still have to play the best to be the best.
“It’s been hard for us to take being knocked out early both times, but we know that we’ve got to win that competition.”
After seeing several one-sided ties in the early rounds of this season’s competition, the inclusion of an extra qualification spot for the more elite European sides has also been widely welcomed.
Results like Arsenal’s 13-2 aggregate defeat of Slavia Praha and Lyon’s 16-0 trouncing of Russian side Ryazan-VDV will hopefully be seen less frequently once the new changes are implemented, creating an all-round more competitive tournament.
Arsenal are the only remaining Barclays FA Women’s Super League side in the competition after City’s early defeat, but with a third side likely to enter once the changes are made, there will be more chance of a first English winner of the competition since the Gunners in 2007.
The news will be particularly welcomed by Chelsea, who, despite reaching the semi-finals of the competition last year, did not qualify for this year’s edition after finishing the 2018/19 WSL season in third place.
Blues defender Maren Mjelde added: “I think it’s important England can get more than two teams in the Champions League.
“I think England has the most competitive league in women’s football at the moment so it is fantastic we will be seeing three sides involved.”