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The Dutch Football Association (KNVB) are to introduce play-offs to decide which first division clubs get a Champions League qualifying spot and three of the country’s four UEFA Cup berths from next season.

A KNVB statement said the changes were being made in an attempt to boost finances for the clubs and to prolong intererest in the later stages of the season.

Under the new system, the league champions will continue to qualify automatically for the Champions League proper, while the winners of the Dutch Cup will still get a place in the UEFA Cup.

The clubs finishing second, third, fourth and fifth will go into a knockout competition with the winners getting a place in the third qualifying round of the Champions League and the next two teams entering the UEFA Cup draw.

The fourth-placed team of that quartet will then play the club that wins another playoff competition involving the clubs finishing sixth to ninth in the table, to claim final UEFA Cup berth at stake.

Because of the additional fixtures, Dutch first division clubs will play matches over the Christmas and New Year period for the first time in 30 years.

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