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Competition and Law Changes in FM23

Every year there are changes made to football, in this article we cover some major changes made and what to expect in your FM23 saves.

By on Sep 27, 2022   26843 views   3 comments
FM Quick Tips - Competition and Law Changes in FM23
Football Manager is about realism; henceforth details about competitions and rules are applied and simulated in the game. Whatever law is applied in real life, must be followed in Football Manager - and this means that when changes occur even further down the road, FM will apply them in our saves.

Competitions are constantly changing and while rule changes are too numerous to count, formats and competitions structures are noticeably the biggest changes and can easily catch you off guard during your saves. FM may have already captured these changes such as seen with the FIFA World Cup, but adjustments, rulings and clarifications are made constantly between editions of FM.

Here we have gathered together major changes in the world of football which could impact your saves in FM23.

The article is divided into five sections;
International Association Competitions (World Cup, Euro’s, etc…)
International Club Competitions (Club World Cup, etc…)
Confederational Club Competitions (Champions League, etc…)
Domestic Competitions (MLS, Premier League, decisions by an Association, etc…)
Other Law Changes (Laws adjusted by IFAB such as five-sub ruling, etc…)

We will update this article between now and the release of FM23 for any updates that occur.

International Association Competitions:

FIFA World Cup

Slot Allocation:
2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be the last edition where a total of 32 teams will compete in the group stages, from 2026 onwards there will be a total of 48 teams including the hosts.

Now this results in some drastic changes not just in the final stages but also in qualification. Let’s focus on the new adjusted slot allocation first;
  • AFC - 8 Associations (previously 4.5)
  • CAF - 9 Associations (previously 5)
  • CONCACAF - 6 Associations (previously 3.5)
  • CONMEBOL - 6 Associations (previously 4.5)
  • OFC - 1 Association (previously 0.5)
  • UEFA - 16 Associations (previously 13)
  • Playoffs - 2 Associations (previously 2).
The new allocation sees a dramatic increase for AFC, CAF and CONCACAF while OFC gets a permanent slot which makes the World Cup a truly “World” event.

Play-off Qualification Tournament:
The most interesting factor besides qualification is the new Playoff Tournament which will take place as a test event for the FIFA World Cup, most likely several months before the actual tournament begins. Six teams in total will compete for the last two FIFA World Cup slots;
  • AFC - 1 Association
  • CAF - 1 Association
  • CONCACAF - 1 Association
  • CONMEBOL - 1 Association
  • OFC - 1 Association
  • UEFA - 0
  • Host’s Association - 1 Association
As we can see from the allocation above, UEFA get no berths in this tournament, while whomever hosts the World Cup will have an additional association compete in the playoff tournament. As an example, the current 2026 World Cup is co-hosted by Canada, USA and Mexico which would mean that the “Host’s Association” slot will go to an additional Association who did not qualify in CONCACAF.

How each association is rewarded the playoff spot will be through a qualification process in each Confederation.

The Playoff Tournament itself will be divided into two parts; a first knockout round with four ‘unseeded’ teams where the winners go to the second knockout round to face the two ‘seeded’ teams.

The seeding format will be based on the FIFA World Rankings, out of all the qualified associations for the playoff tournament, the top two highest ranked associations will be the “seeded” teams while the other four associations are the “unseeded” teams.

The format is a mini-knockout tournament which will run as a test run for the World Cup, therefore it is suspected that it will only be 1 match per tie, with the winners advancing and the losers going home.

Qualification Process:
Thanks to the dramatic increase in teams, FIFA and all Confederations are currently under the process of revamping the qualification processes for the new tournament.

Football Manager had already simulated this when it was confirmed there would be an expansion of teams. However the actual format of qualification is still yet to be determined and may be tweaked accordingly between now and FM23 release.

The Finals Stage:
With the increase in teams comes an increase in Groups where there will be a total of 16 Groups of 3 Teams where only two matches will be played - one against each group opponent. Assumptions will be continuous from the previous editions where no associations from the same Confederation apart from UEFA are allowed to be drawn against each other in the Group Stages. After the two matches, the top two teams will qualify for the Round of 32 where a straight knockout competition will take place to determine the winner.

The above paragraph mentions the current confirmed format of the FIFA World Cup, there have been multiple reports which indicate that FIFA will look to change the group stage back to a four-team-per-group format. This means 12 Groups of 4 will take place. The top two will automatically qualify and will see the return of the qualification of the best 3rd-Place teams which took place in previous World Cup editions and the existing European Championships.

There are multiple ways that this could play out, with the possibility of an additional knockout round to take place before the Round of 32. This has yet to be clarified.

UEFA Nations League

Starting from the 2024/2025 edition of the UEFA Nations League, there is a possibility that all 10 associations from CONMEBOL will join the competition.

Presumably, it sees the six strongest confederations joining League A (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Uruguay) while the remaining four join League B (Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Venezuela).

This has not been officially confirmed yet but there is conversation and talks in the works to make this happen as a response to FIFA’s feasibility studies of hosting the World Cup every two years.

CONMEBOL - UEFA Cup of Champions (“Finalissima”)

(Formerly known as the Artemio Franchi Cup)

The Finalissima originally took place in 1985 and 1993 before the Intercontinental Cup run by FIFA took over as a pre-World Cup competition between the reigning Confederation Champions and holders of the World Cup.

Now the Finalissima looks set to continue after UEFA and CONMEBOL renewed partnerships between the two Confederations which restarted this competition in the first place.

This means that the competition is set to take place on a quadrennial basis with the next edition taking place in late 2024 or 2025, after the 2024 UEFA European Championships and 2024 Copa America take place.

As usual, the competition will be a one-off match between the winners of the two Confederational competitions.

It is assumed that the venue will alternate between a UEFA venue and CONMEBOL venue. Since the 2022 edition took place at Wembley Stadium in England, the next edition will take place in South America under a CONMEBOL association.

The current pact between the two confederations lasts until 2028, it is assumed that this competition will continue past the renewed memorandum of understanding unless specified otherwise.

It is unknown if a return of the Intercontinental Cup will take place and is most likely not to occur as this competition is a strict pact between CONMEBOL and UEFA in their alliance against FIFA.

Copa America

With the new partnership and goals of CONMEBOL to re-compete with UEFA at the highest level, competitions are now starting to fall in line with European formats and schedules. This means that the Copa America is now strictly a quadrennial tournament, taking place at the same time as the UEFA European Championships from 2024 onwards.

While 12 teams have been the regular, The competition is to consider permanent expansion to 16 teams with the additional slots being sent by invitation.

The last several editions have included two invitations sent to AFC associations while CONCACAF associations have been invited in the past.

International Club Competitions:

FIFA Club World Cup

The FIFA Club World Cup is set to take place every four years now, expanding to 24 teams in total. Football Manager has already simulated this expansion, but the official details and processes of the competition may change between now and FM23 release.

The total slot allocation is as followed;
  • AFC - 2.5 Teams
  • CAF - 3 Teams
  • CONCACAF - 3 Teams
  • CONMEBOL - 6 Teams
  • OFC - 0.5 Teams
  • UEFA - 8 Teams
  • Host Nation - 1 Team
How each team qualifies is yet to be determined.

A playoff round will determine the third-best AFC team and the OFC entrant. The winner will progress to the final stages where there will be eight groups of three teams each. The winners of the eight groups will advance to the quarter finals where a straight-knockout tournament will take place.

There are rumours that the tournament will be increasing to a 32-team style tournament similar to that of the currently existing FIFA World Cup format. This has yet to be determined however.

The Group Stage is currently set to 8 Groups of 3 Teams with the group winners qualifying for a straight knockout. It may also change to 6 Groups of 4 Teams with the top two in each group qualifying for a Round of 16 tie.

The four year cycle may be reset and be played in the summer before the Men’s FIFA World Cup takes place, meaning that the new FIFA Club World Cup will start in June or July 2025.

Confederational Club Competitions:

UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Europa Conference League

UEFA announced that from the start of the 2024/2025 season there will be a NEW format across the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League.

The formats have been adjusted as follows;
The competition moves from 32 teams to 36 teams. All teams will be in a single league table.
There will be 8 matches in total, four at home and four away - but ALL will be against different clubs.
The four new slots are rewarded as follows;
Fifth ranked association, the club ranked third in that league.
One additional place available via the “Champions Path”. This means that in the ‘Play-Off Round’ of qualification, there will be 10 teams competing for five spots rather than the current 8 teams competing for four spots. The winners will qualify for the League Stage Proper.
Two spots will go to the two associations who have the best collective performance by their clubs in Europe over the previous season. Those spots will automatically go to the clubs who sit outside the UEFA Champions League spots in their respective leagues.

This determines the new League Stage, so what happens after the 8 matches are played?;
The top 8 sides in the league table will automatically qualify for the Round of 16.
The teams ranked 9th to 24th place (16 teams total) will compete in a two-legged play-off, with the winners (8 teams total) moving on to the Round of 16.
Teams ranked 25th to 36th place (12 teams total) in the league are eliminated with no drop to the Europa League.
Round of 16 onwards is the same format as is currently the case.

All these changes will also be applied to the Europa League and Europa Conference League. The Europa League will have 8 matches in the league phase, but the Europa Conference League will only have 6 matches in the league phase instead.

CONCACAF Champions League

The new CONCACAF Champions League will be played in the fall of each year starting in 2024. It will include four groups of North American clubs, four groups of Central American clubs, and two groups of Caribbean clubs. Following the group stage will be a 16-team knockout stage played in the spring.

Group Stage - North American Clubs:
A total of 20 clubs from Canada, Mexico and the U.S.A. will qualify through domestic leagues, cup competitions and one slot via the Leagues Cup.

The 20 Clubs will be drawn into four groups of five, with each club playing a total of four group stage matches, two at home and two away.

The four group winners and the four group second-place finishers will qualify for the knockout stage.

Three more clubs will join the 8 qualified clubs via a play-in round that will follow the group stage.

Group Stage - Central American Clubs:
A total of 20 clubs from Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama will qualify through their domestic leagues and the new Central American Cup.

The 20 Clubs will be drawn into four groups of five, with each club playing a total of four group stage matches, two at home and two away.

The four group winners and the four second-place finishers will qualify for a play-in. The four winners of the play-in will qualify for the knockout stage.

Group Stage - Caribbean Clubs:
A total of 10 clubs from the Caribbean will qualify into the group stage. Eight will qualify directly through professional leagues in the region and two will qualify through the new Caribbean cup which includes ALL of the Caribbean.

The 10 Clubs will be drawn into two groups of five, with each club playing a total of four group stage matches, two at home and two away.

The two group winners will qualify for a play-in match, the winner will qualify for the knockout stage.

CONCACAF is still finalizing the details and formats of this tournament.

Leagues Cup (CONCACAF)

The current existing competition is set for a massive expansion from 8 teams to include ALL teams from MLS (United States) and Liga MX (Mexico) starting in 2023. This means a total of 47 teams will participate in the competition (29 from USA and 18 from Liga MX).

The exact format is unknown, but it is deemed as a World Cup Knockout-style tournament, therefore a preliminary round most likely on the MLS side as they have more clubs will take place before entering a straight knockout format.

Seedings will most likely be determined via league positions from the previous season.

The winners of the competition will get an automatic bye into the new CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 while both second and third place get a spot in “Round One” of the new Champions League format as well.

Therefore an assumption can be made that there will be a “third-place playoff” match to determine the third-place team and award the Champions League spot accordingly.

CONCACAF is still finalizing the details and formats of this tournament.

CONCACAF Central American Cup

A new competition on the block starting in 2023/2024 which involves; Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. A total of 20 teams will participate in the competition which will have four groups of five teams.

The allocation is as follows;
  • Belize - 1 Slot (Champion)
  • Costa Rica - 3 Slots (Apertura Champion, Clausura Champion, Next Best Club)
  • El Salvador - 3 Slots (Apertura Champion, Clausura Champion, Next Best Club)
  • Guatemala - 3 Slots (Apertura Champion, Clausura Champion, Next Best Club)
  • Honduras - 3 Slots (Apertura Champion, Clausura Champion, Next Best Club)
  • Nicaragua - 2 Slots (Apertura Champion, Clausura Champion)
  • Panama - 3 Slots (Apertura Champion, Clausura Champion, Next Best Club)
  • Two more slots unknown.
After everybody competes against one another both home and away, the two best clubs in each group will advance to the knockout stages and the format will be as follows:
  • Quarterfinals - 8 Teams
  • Playoff - 4 Team losing quarter finalists in a knockout tie.
  • Semifinals - 4 Teams
  • Finalists - 2 Teams
The “Playoff” round is used to determine two winners who will get a bye to the CONCACAF Champions League “Round One”. The two losing semi-finalists and the runners-up also get that same bye while the winners of the competition get a bye to Round of 16 of the Champions League.

CONCACAF is still finalizing the details and formats of this tournament.

Caribbean Cup (CONCACAF)

There will be 10 Caribbean clubs participating in the new competition which is divided into two groups of five teams. The slot allocation is as follows;
  • Dominican Republic - 2 Slots (Champion and Next best club).
  • Haiti - 2 Slots (Champion and Runner-Up)
  • Jamaica - 2 Slots (Champion and Runner-Up)
  • Trinidad and Tobago - 2 Slots (Champion and Runner-Up)
The top two in each group qualify for the knockout stage where there will be a Semi-Final stage, third place play-off and Finals.

The top three clubs after this knockout will advance to the new CONCACAF Champions League with the winner receiving a bye to the Round of 16.

CONCACAF is still finalizing the details and formats of this tournament.

CAF Super League

It did not function in Europe, but a Super League has been announced and is set to start in August 2023. Whether this actually functions and develops into a competitive real tournament is yet to be seen but Africa is set to have a Super League. For now, the competition may be put in FM23 therefore we will give you a full low-down of what we know so far and what to expect.
  • Set to kick off in August 2023.
  • 24 Clubs are set to feature in three groups of eight teams.
  • A knockout phase starting with a Round of 16 will follow the group stage.
  • The 24 Clubs are from 16 different countries, with a maximum of 3 clubs per country and limited to 8 per African region (1 region per group).
  • Every group is played on a regional basis;
  • Group 1 includes North African clubs only.
  • Group 2 includes Central & West African clubs only.
  • Group 3 includes South & East African clubs only.
  • There is set to be a promotion/relegation system.
  • This may mean that the current CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup are set to remain.
  • The winners of the competition will make $11 Million in prize money.
  • A total of 197 matches will be played over a span of 10 months from August 2023 to May 2024. This includes 21 matches set aside for the promotion/relegation playoffs.

Domestic Competitions:


Following the COVID-19 pandemic, promotion and relegation was suspended by the AFA. Promotion and relegation resumed for this season, affecting the teams from the previous season (2021).

[img][images/flags/be.png[/img] Belgium

There are a multitude of changes happening to the Belgian league system, below is the following that will take place;
  • The 2022/23 season will see the reduction of teams from 18 to 16 for the start of the 2023/2024 season. That means for the 2022/23 season there will be three teams who will face direct relegation.
  • For the start of the 2023/24 season onwards, the league will have 16 teams with two directly being relegated plus one additional team through a relegation playoff.
  • The Belgian second division will increase to 16 teams, including U-23 teams. The top 6 will battle for promotion after the regular season while the bottom 6 will meet each other for relegation. U-23 clubs in the Belgian First Division B will be able to be relegated but NOT promoted.


There are a series of clubs set to join the CPL as part of an expansion. It is unknown if these clubs will be in Football Manager 2023;
  • A club is set to debut in the 2023 season from Langley, British Columbia. The club is set to play at Willoughby Community Park.
  • A club is set to play in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with a targeted debut of the 2023 season at the earliest. They are preferred to play at the Prairieland Park.
  • A club has been awarded an expansion slot for Windsor, Ontario with the launch goal of being 2026. Windsor Stadium is set as a potential ground for the new club.
From 2023 onwards, there will be a reward for both the regular-season champion, and playoff champion.
  • The reason for this change is that both of those champions will receive a financial reward, rather than just being the playoff champion.
  • It gives recognition for the regular season campaign and incentive for teams to compete.
  • Also sets up the potential for a “Super Cup” match between the Regular Season champions and Play-off Champions at the start of the next season.


The French Football Federation (FFF) have decided to revamp the league system with Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 being reduced from 20 teams to 18 in total.
  • For the 2022/2023 season, there will be four relegation slots from Ligue 1 while Ligue 2 will have only two promoted teams so the league can drop from 20 teams to 18 teams.
  • For the 2023/2024 season, Ligue 2 will have four relegation slots and the Championnat National will have only two promoted teams so the league can drop from 20 teams to 18 teams.
The format for relegation and promotion post league size changes will be as follows:
  • Teams placed 17th and 18th will be automatically relegated to the league below.
  • Possibly a relegation play-off will take place with the 16th placed team. (Similar format to the German league system).


A few seasons back, a decision was made to suspend Promotion and Relegation due to the financial instability and crisis encapsulating Mexican football. The suspension was supposed to last till 2025, but it has been ruled that promotion to Liga MX from Liga Expansion will resume from the 2022/2023 season onwards.

South Korea

For the 2023 season, promotion and relegation will now occur for South Korea’s second tier (K League 2) to the third tier (K3 League). The third and fourth tier already have a promotion and relegation system.
  • Promotion and relegation are likely to occur in the same way as the current system between the 1st and 2nd tiers of South Korean football. The champions will get automatic promotion while second, third and fourth place enter a playoffs with the winner facing the second worst team in the division above.
For 2022, the K League 2 has expanded to 11 teams and is set to expand to 12 teams for the 2023 season. The integrating promotion and relegation as mentioned above.

United States of America

There is set to be one additional expansion team to Major League Soccer;
  • St. Louis City SC is set to debut for the 2023 MLS season and is set to play at the Centene Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.

Other Law Changes:

Several competitions still used the away-goals rule when UEFA made the announcement to abolish it. In several competitions both domestically and confederationally they have removed the law and will be applied in FM23 accordingly. Keep in mind, several competitions may still use the law of away-goals rule.

The five substitutions now has become a permanent law thanks to a ruling by IFAB (football’s lawmakers). Several competitions have adopted this law and will now be applicable in FM23. Along with this, expanded benches for matchday have also been applied across several competitions meaning your matchday squad is now larger.

Extra-Time. Several competitions have adjusted formats which involve the exclusion of extra time after 90 minutes have been played. This results that after a draw, the match will jump straight into a penalty shoot-out. (This is seen in the EFL Cup in England as an example).

Not necessarily a law change, but IFAB and FIFA have been ramping up measures to stamp out breakups in play and making the game more physical with less fouls being given. It may be possible that a more physical game may be seen in FM’s simulation. (This is purely speculative).

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Discussion: Competition and Law Changes in FM23

3 comments have been posted so far.

  • thenhj's avatar
    I thought the new loan regulations would also be rolled out, but that's not shown here...
  • seabas3's avatar
    will the belgian league get its updates too?

    Hey there. Yes I expect so too, I didn’t realize the Belgian league is changing it’s formats as well. I’ll do some more research and add it to the article. Sports Interactive are very on top of changes and implement them in FM even before official details are finalized. So I would expect these changes in the Belgian system to take place as well.
  • Gerbtheking's avatar
    will the belgian league get its updates too? there will be 3 relegation spots this season to reduce the number of teams from 18 to 16 for the 23/24 season. After that there will also be another play off system. + there is the addition of B-teams to the second division and third division. Hope they will be playable like the real B team etc.
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