UEFA’s Europa Conference League is a brand- new European tournament to start in 2021
A new third European club competition is due to start in a few years by UEFA – but what is it, is it the same as the European Super League, how will it affect the Champions League and which teams will qualify?
We take a look at everything you need to know about the new tournament and more.
What is the Europa Conference League?
Plans for a new, third European club competition have been announced by UEFA to run from 2021-24.
On September 24, 2019, UEFA confirmed that it would be named the Europa Conference League.
The tournament will be seen as the third-tier of European football competition, following the Europa League and Champions League (which is the most elite).
UEFA said in a statement: “The new competition will start in 2021 and is aimed at giving more clubs in more countries a chance to participate in European football.”
The UECL will comprise of 32 teams with eight groups of four. They will then be whittled down to a round of 16, following a play-off fixture between the second-placed teams and those who finish third in the Europa League.
Quarter-finals and semi-finals will follow suit, before a 141st game – the final of the competition.
The creation of the new European club tournament was approved following a 2018 meeting in Dublin, with UEFA stating that its inception will make sure that at least 34 European countries will be represented in the group stages of the UECL.
The winner of the UECL will then automatically qualify for the following season’s UEL campaign, starting from the group stage.
UEFA added that UECL fixtures will be played on Thursdays, the same day as UEL matches, with an earlier kickoff of 3:30pm GMT.
The governing body is yet to confirm the criteria for earning a place in the UECL, stating that they will leave such decisions to individual associations – be it through league placement or Cup finishes (as well as elimination from the Europa League).
Why have UEFA announced a third European club competition?
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin stated that the introduction of a new third European competition at club level was to address “widespread demand” for a tournament that is more accommodating to teams.
“The new UEFA club competition makes UEFA’s club competitions more inclusive than ever before,” Ceferin said.
“There will be more matches for more clubs, with more associations represented in the group stages. This competition was borne out of ongoing dialogue with clubs through the European Club Association (ECA).
“There was a widespread demand by all clubs to increase their chances of participating more regularly in European competition. This has been achieved with a strategic approach and in accordance with UEFA’s objective of having both more quality and more inclusivity in our club competitions.”
ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli added: “We believe that this outcome ensures that the UEFA club competitions continue to develop in a manner which is fair and balanced, meeting the demands and requirements necessary to ensure that football remains the number one sport globally.”