UEFA Champions League

Editions

Year Winner Runner-up
2014 (2013-14) Real Madrid Atlético Madrid
2015 (2014-15) Barcelona Juventus
2016 (2015-16) Real Madrid Atlético Madrid
2017 (2016-17) Real Madrid Juventus
2018 (2017-18)

History

The idea of a competition between the leading clubs in various European countries materialised in 1955. Although football writer Gabriel Hanot is widely credited with the concept, discussions had been held as long ago as 1938 and, had it not been for World War Two, may have come to fruition much earlier.

The 16 participating clubs in the first editon of the European Cup were selected by the French football magazine L'Equipe as the most representative and prestigious clubs.

The format was on a two-legged knock-out basis up to the single game final between Real Madrid and Stade Reims in Paris.

Despite a number of setbacks over the years, the competition thrived and continually grew in popularity. However, and probably due to its own success, the clamour for a super league amongst the continent's elite increased in intensity.

A group stage was introduced for the first time in 1991-92 but it was in the 1992-93 that the competition was renamed the UEFA Champions League.

UEFA's commercial partner, Television Event and Media Marketing (TEAM) under took the re-branding tasks. Notably, a new anthem would be played before each game, as well as at the beginning and end of television broadcasts. It is titled "Champions League" and is an adaptation of George Frideric Handel's Zadok the Priest.

36 clubs took part in 1992-93 with no more than one club from each country. The group stage was effectively the semi-final (two groups of four clubs).

More changes followed in 1995 when four groups of four replaced the first and second rounds followed by knock-out stages.

Gradually, a two-tier system of entry was introduced. It was further evidence of the bigger clubs' influence as those countries with little or no success in the competition's history were filtered towards the UEFA Cup.

A significant relaxation of the original concept came in 1997-98 then the leading countries were allowed to enter their runners-up in to the "champions" tournament.

Global television contracts and sponsorship deals with multi-national corporations has seen the competing clubs receive lucrative rewards that could only have been dreamed of in the early years.

Over 75 years since thoughts of a European club competition were first mooted, suggestions of the formation of a European Super League won't go away as the top clubs' financial appetite shows no sign of being satisfied.