UEFA is set to implement a radical shake-up of Champions League seedings in time for next season.
General secretary Gianni Infantino said in London yesterday that the holders, alongside the league champions from UEFA's seven top-ranked nations, will be placed in pot one for the 2014/15 competition.
Teams are currently seeded based on their UEFA coefficient, which depends on performances in the Champions League and Europa League rather than domestic competitions.
On that basis, Spain had three pot one teams for the group-stage draw this season, in holders Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, while England had two with Chelsea and Arsenal, as did Portugal with Benfica and Porto, while German giants Bayern Munich made up the eight.
The change of policy has been agreed on the basis on "sporting merit", according to Infantino.
It could mean some of the biggest and historically most successful clubs in Europe clashing as early as the group stages.
The latest seeding rules will come as bad news for the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United, should they qualify for the Champions League but not win the Premier League. Both clubs have previously enjoyed top-seed status due to their high UEFA coefficient.
Under the new rules, only the Premier League champions would go into pot one next season and Infantino insists rewarding success is the right thing to do.
Infantino added: "Football is about winning, it's about competition it's about sporting merit.
"I think it's kind of a natural thing to give to those who have won a competition a special treatment like this."