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The Champions League is a football tournament between the best clubs in Europe. The original format of the competition was for just the winners of each participating country's domestic league to compete against each other in a two leg knockout contest. In those days the competition was known simply as the European Cup.
In 1992 the format of the competition was changed to include more of the top flight football teams from highly ranked countries. Up to four teams from one country can now play. The format of the tournament is now three qualifying rounds for lower placed teams and lower ranked countries, followed by a group stage or mini-league which is then followed by a knock-out round for the remaining 16 teams. Due to football hooliganism, English clubs were sanctioned with a five-year competition ban in 1985; Liverpool was banned for a further two years.
The 2012-13 UEFA Champions League is the 58th season of Europe's premier club football tournament organized by UEFA, and the 21st season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs' Cup to the UEFA Champions League. The final will be played at Wembley Stadium in London, England. This is in recognition of 150 years since the formation of the English Football Association, the world's oldest football association. This is the seventh occasion Wembley Stadium (current and old) has hosted the Champions League final. Chelsea are the defending champions but were eliminated in the group stage, thus becoming the first team to leave the competition as title holders at such stage.
A total of 20 teams will contest the league, including 17 sides from the 2011-12 season and three promoted from the 2011-12 Football League Championship. Relegation for Wolverhampton Wanderers to the 2012-13 Football League Championship was confirmed on April 22, 2012, ending a three-season Premier League tenure. Blackburn Rovers were relegated after a 1-0 defeat against Wigan Athletic on May 7, 2012, ending an eleven-season tenure in top-flight football. The final team to be relegated from the 2011-12 Premier League was Bolton Wanderers on May 13, 2012, the final day of the season, also after eleven seasons in the top flight. For only the second time in the history of the Premier League, all three sides who were promoted from the 2010-11 Football League Championship survived and will compete in this season.
Reading (as Champions) and Southampton (as runners-up) secured direct promotion to the Premier League from the 2011-12 Football League Championship. Reading will return to the Premier League after an absence of four years, while Southampton make a comeback to the highest tier after making two successive promotions and seven seasons in the leagues below. The third promoted team was decided in a four-team play-off between the Championship teams ranked third through to sixth. Ultimately, third-placed West Ham United defeated fifth-placed Blackpool in the Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium on May 19, 012. West Ham returned to the Premier League after only one season of absence. History and great football makes the UEFA Champions League a spectators dream come true.
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