UEFA have confirmed a restructure to the Champions League - including changing the kick-off times and guaranteed entry to the group stages.

Liverpool's fourth-placed finish in last season's Premier League meant they had to navigate a play-off in August - against Hoffenheim - to qualify for the competition proper.

But under new rules sanctioned today ahead of the 2018-19 season, the top four from England - as well as Spain, Italy and Germany - will gain direct qualification into the group stages.

The tournament will also now have two new kick-off times, with the traditional 7.45pm kick off being replaced by 5.55pm and 8pm.

The news comes as a boost to the Reds, who will no longer have to face a play-off in order to gain entry into the group stages regardless of where they finish in the top four.

Winning the Champions League - or Europa League - will also guarantee entry into the last 32.

However, if two teams who finish outside England's top four win those competitions, then the fourth-placed team would drop into the Europa League.

There will also be six other qualifiers - four champions of their domestic league, two 'non-champions' - to make up the group stages.

The teams who finish fifth and sixth in the Premier League are also guaranteed a spot in the Europa League group stages.

The 2019 Champions League final will be played in Madrid, Spain, on June 1.

Liverpool currently sit third in the league and are considered one of the favourites to finish in the top four, and also lead Porto 5-0 in their last 16 tie.

Source: Liverpool Echo

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