UEFA confirms new Europa League 2
A third continental club competition will be introduced from 2021, it has been confirmed by UEFA, the governing body of European soccer.
Under the working title of Europa League 2, the new tournament will feature 32 teams, with taking place on Thursday evenings – as per the existing UEFA Europa League.
However, the Europa League will halve in size to 32 teams, with only clubs from European soccer’s 15 top-ranked nations taking part in the current competition. As a result, sides from countries with lower coefficients will qualify for the new tournament.
The new competition, which was initially given the green light pending approval from the UEFA executive committee in September, will have the same format as the Europa League. It will consist of eight groups of four teams, with the winners progressing to the last 16.
A new feature of both the existing Europa League and its new sister competition will see an additional playoff round between the group stage and knockout phase, with teams ranked second in their Europa League 2 groups and the third-ranked teams of the Europa League groups facing off. The winner of the playoff would then progress to the last-16 of the new tournament.
The new competition will feature 141 matches over 15 match weeks, exactly like the Europa League. Similarly, the winner will automatically qualify for the following season’s Europa League.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: “The new UEFA club competition makes UEFA's club competitions more inclusive than ever before.
“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.
“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.”
Its introduction is set to be a further boost to UEFA’s revenue, with its most recent figures showing the governing body made €2.8 billion in 2016/17.
A new competition will ensure three concurrent UEFA tournaments taking place for the first time since the Cup Winners’ Cup was discontinued in 1999.
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