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Champions League debutant Brest cant use outdated stadium and wants to move games to Guingamp

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GENEVA (AP) — French club Brest will not play Champions League home games in its outdated 102-year-old stadium for its European debut next season.

UEFA said on Wednesday the request from Brest is to use the stadium of its Brittany near-neighbor Guingamp for the four home games in a new 36-team league phase revamp of the competition. The traditional group stage has been dropped.

Brest’s Stade Francis-Le Blé home is not modern enough for Champions League games, with as few as 5,000 seats of the 15,200 capacity able to meet UEFA standards.

UEFA is in the process of approving the 19,000-seat Roudourou home of second-tier Guingamp, about 110 kilometers (70 miles) east of the port city Brest.

Brest never qualified for a UEFA competition until placing third in Ligue 1 this season behind champion Paris Saint-Germain and runner-up Monaco.

The Champions League expansion to 36 teams from 32 helped Brest avoid the qualifying playoffs in August. France received a guaranteed third direct entry because it is the domestic league ranked fifth by UEFA.

Brest is set to earn at least 30 million euros ($32 million) in UEFA prize money from its Champions League debut even if it loses all eight games. Brest will be in the seeding pot of the lowest-ranked teams in the Aug. 29 draw in Monaco.

The new format means Champions League teams play eight different opponents once each — instead of three group opponents home and away — and be ranked in a singles standings.

The new format was agreed on by UEFA in 2022 under pressure from storied clubs who wanted more prize money, more guaranteed games and more high-profile games against each other.

The top eight teams in January advance directly to the round of 16.

Teams ranked Nos. 9 to 24 go into a two-leg playoffs round to complete the last-16 lineup. That knockout bracket will be seeded Nos. 1 to 16 like a tennis tournament.

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