UEFA has confirmed changes to the Champions League which result in the Premier League having four guaranteed places from 2018/19.

The changes to the tournament mean that Europe’s top four leagues, the Premier League, La Liga, the Bundesliga and Serie A, will receive automatic qualification for the top four finishers in their competition.

At present the top three leagues (Spain, Germany and England) have three places each and fourth placed teams need to compete in a play-off over two legs for a place in the group stage. Italy, the fourth ranked league, only has two guaranteed places and one in the play-off round.

The change was announced after UEFA officials met to discuss the format of the competition at the end of last week. Representatives from UEFA and the European Club Association were looking at ways to prevent the creation of a breakaway Super League.

A number of clubs have expressed concerns about the qualifying criteria and the format of UEFA’s competitions and this had led to a great deal of speculation about the creation of a rival competition.

Other changes which will come into effect in 2018 will see clubs being judged on their own records, removing the country share for the individual club coefficient unless that coefficient is less than 20% of the association’s coefficient.

Furthermore, previous success in the competition will be acknowledged in coefficient calculations with points awarded for previous European titles and financial distribution to clubs will be increased in both the Champions and Europa Leagues.

Both competitions will retain the same format but the winners of the Europa League will automatically qualify for the Champions League group stage, at present they can only potentially take part in a play-off round.

The changes have been welcomed by the Premier League but they are restraining from commenting fully until all the changes have been announced at the end of this year.