LEN presented the new Champions League

LEN press release - LEN has launched the newly formatted Champions League after a meeting held in Rome involving all stakeholders. Better funding, better TV coverage and a new marketing strategy will ensure that water polo premium club competition will get into a new dimension from this season. It was also announced that the next two editions of the Final Six will be hosted by Barcelona (ESP) in 2014 and 2015.

The new format will see three qualification rounds, the first two will be played in round robin format then came the first exciting phase, four duels to clinch the four berths available in the Group stage. Eight teams are already part of the big show, the champion sides of the top eight nations. The draw has already been made for the two groups of six teams (see below), last season’s runners-up Jug Dubrovnik (CRO) and Barceloneta (ESP) –reached the Final Four for the first time in the last edition – are in the same group with Hungary’s top team, Eger and Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE). Partizan Belgrade (SRB) will clash with Brescia (ITA), Spandau (GER) and Galatasaray (TUR) – and of course, both groups will welcome two more clubs after the conclusion of the qualification process.

Since some elite sides like Pro Recco (ITA), Primorje Rijeka (CRO), Crvena Zvezda (SRB) and Szolnok (HUN) are waiting for their rivals and have a great chance to join the best eight, it is clear that the continent will see a handful of mouthwatering encounters in the Champions League.

The top three sides of the Groups will be promoted to the Final Six, though Barceloneta has a guaranteed berth as host of the next two finals in 2014 and 2015. Still, the battle is on as the group-winners will go directly to the semifinals while the others have to play a cross-game with teams finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively in the other group to earn a spot in the semis.

The Champions League meeting was attended by LEN President Paolo Barelli, LEN Bureau Member Fernando Carpena and Aleksandar Sostar, LEN TWPC Chairman Gianni Lonzi, LEN Marketing responsible David Rouger, LEN Water Polo Manager Marco Birri and several representatives of the participating teams.

LEN leaders made it clear that a new marketing strategy, a standardized and high-level TV-coverage were essential for the success of the Champions League. LEN will give the clubs all the necessary help to promote water polo even better – and it’s already been decided that the fund for the participating teams will be raised to 316,000 EUR. Until 2013 only the teams reaching the Final Four received prize money, from this season all 12 sides competing in the Group phase will be honoured, naturally, those appearing in the Final Six will receive more.
Champions League
Group A
Eger (HUN)
Barceloneta (ESP)
Jug Dubrovnik (CRO)
Olympiakos Piraeus (GRE)
Winner of QR3 game B
Winner of QR3 game D
Group B
Galatasaray Istanbul (TUR)
Spandau Berlin (GER)
Brescia (ITA)
Partizan Belgrade (SRB)
Winner of QR3 game A
Winner of QR3 game C
Qualification process
Round I

Group A (in Naples, ITA)
Mladost Zagreb (CRO)
CN Marseille (FRA)
Schuurman BZC Borculo (NED)
Sintez Kazan (RUS)
Acquachiara Napoli (ITA)
Malta (to be named after the conclusion of the championship)
Group B (in Kragujevac, SRB)   
Spartak Volgograd (SRB)
CSM Digi Oradea (ROU)
VK Budva (MNE)
Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB)
Montpellier Waterpolo (FRA)
Waspo Hannover (GER)
Round II
6 teams: Primorje Rijeka (CRO), Duisburg (GER), Vouliagmeni (GRE), Szolnok (HUN), Pro Recco (ITA), Crvena Zvezda (SRB)
10 teams from Round I (first five placed from both groups)
Four groups of four, round robin format, three-day competitions.
Round III
First two seeded teams from the four groups will be drawn into pairs (first placed with second placed ones), and the four winners will be promoted to the Champions League
Games A, B, D, C.


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