Saturday 19 October 2019

How will UEFA's new club competition, the Europa Conference League, work?

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

UEFA has announced that its third club competition, which will start in 2021, will be called the Europa Conference League.

The introduction of the new 32-team tournament, which will sit below the Champions and Europa Leagues, was confirmed last December, with the working title at that point 'UEL2'.

Here are some of the key questions answered about the new competition.

How will it work?

There will be eight groups of four teams, with the group winners progressing automatically to the round of 16.

An additional knock-out round will be played before the last 16 between the second-placed teams in the groups and the teams who finish third in their Europa League groups.

The winner of the new competition will gain entry to the following season's Europa League. The competition matches will be played on Thursdays, with kick-off times at 1745 and 2000.

So, who will play in it?

That is not clear at the moment. UEFA will leave it to individual associations to decide the criteria for earning a place, be it through league placing or cup.

Do we really need another European club competition?

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said in December there was a "widespread demand by all clubs to increase their chances of participating more regularly in European competition" and the new tournament will make "UEFA's club competitions more inclusive than ever before".

UEFA at that time said the new competition would mean at least 34 countries would be represented in the group stages of the three club competitions, the minimum guaranteed number at that point being 26.

Are the Champions and Europa Leagues changing?

The Champions League's format is staying the same. The Europa League's group stage is being reduced from 48 teams to 32 from 2021, meaning all three competitions will have the same number.

As with the Europa Conference League, there will be an additional Europa League knockout round played before the round of 16, between teams ranked second in their groups and the third-ranked teams of the Champions League groups.

The new early kick-off time of 5.45pm will be used for all three, rather than 5.55pm.

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