What’s the Europa Convention League?
A new competition will soon be added to the football calendar, the UEFA Europa Conference League.
UEFA has announced all the details for Europe’s third competition.
While some fans will wonder if another tournament is really needed on an already busy schedule, others see it as an opportunity for their team to shape Europe.
Here is everything you need to know about the Europa Conference League.
What is the Europa Conference League?
The UEFA Europa Conference League is a new continental competition set to begin in the 2021/22 football season.
The competition, abbreviated as UECL, is also known as the UEFA Conference League.
The Europa Conference League will be the third largest UEFA competition.
The Champions League will maintain the top spot and the existing Europa League will continue to be the second division competition.
The Europa Conference League will be next in line. UEFA said in a statement: “The new competition should give more clubs in more countries the opportunity to participate in European football.”
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin insisted that there was “widespread demand” for a third competition.
He wants the Europa Conference League to ensure that a wider variety of countries are represented in the continental game.
Ceferin said: “This makes UEFA club competition more extensive than ever. More games for more clubs with more associations in the group stage.
“All the clubs were widespread to increase their chances of participating in the European competition more regularly.
“This has been achieved with a strategic approach and in line with UEFA’s goal of achieving both better quality and more inclusiveness in our club competitions.”
The new European club tournament was approved in 2018 and the final decision was made after a UEFA meeting in Dublin.
To justify the creation of the UECL, UEFA stated that a specific format will ensure that at least 34 nations in Europe have the opportunity to play in the group stage and experience continental football.
When does the Europa Conference League start?
Qualification and play-off rounds for the UECL will take place from July 8, 2021 and will last until August 26.
The first official group stage matches of the Europa Conference League tournament will begin on September 16.
UECL groups will be decided in the draw on August 27th after all qualifying rounds have ended.
The first final of the third European competition is expected to take place on May 25, 2022. Tirana, Albania, is confirmed as the venue.
Thursday is already an important day in the football calendar as Europa League matches are played here.
UECL matches will also be played on Thursdays, although some of them will have kick-off times earlier than Europa League competitions to avoid a full clash.
This means that Tuesday and Wednesday are free for Champions League games. If there are planning conflicts, some UECL games could also be played on these days.
What is the format of the Europa Conference League?
There are three qualifying rounds and one play-off round before the main tournament begins.
Then there are 32 teams that will play in the group stage of the UEFA Conference League.
The 32 consists of 22 teams that have gone through the qualifying process for the Europa Conference League and 10 teams that enter the tournament after losing in the Europa League play-offs.
Previously, the elimination at this point would have ended these teams’ continental campaigns prematurely. Now they still have the opportunity to play in a European group stage through the UECL.
Similar to the Champions League, the UECL will consist of 32 teams, which are divided into eight groups of four.
The UECL format is slightly different in how the teams reach the knockout stage.
All eight group winners automatically enter the Europa Conference League, as is the case in the Champions League, while teams that finish their group campaigns in third or fourth place are eliminated immediately.
However, teams that finish second face another hurdle if they want to get through.
You must play in a play-off round against the eight teams that finished third in their Europa League groups and that have been given a lifeline by joining the UEFA Conference League.
The eight teams that emerge from this UECL play-off round will join the eight group winners of the last 16.
From there follows a normal knockout phase with the last 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.
The UEFA Europa Conference League winning team will have direct access to the following season’s Europa League group stage, unless they have otherwise qualified for the Champions League.
How do you qualify for the Europa Conference League?
The top five nations according to the UEFA country coefficients are Spain, England, Germany, Italy and France.
These countries will initially each have a representative in the UECL, although other teams from the top nations could enter the competition in different phases of the Europa League depending on their performance.
Two teams from each of the countries with places six to 15 will receive a place in the UECL.
These include Portugal, Russia, Belgium, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Turkey, Austria, Denmark, Scotland and the Czech Republic.
Apart from Liechtenstein (1), Estonia, San Marino, Kosovo, the Faroe Islands and Andorra (all two), all other UEFA countries have three places available.
There will be differences in how each nation ranks their teams in the Europa Conference League.
In England, the winners of the EFL Cup, currently known as the Carabao Cup, will have access to the UECL play-offs, unless they have otherwise qualified for the Champions League or Europa League.
If that team has already reached a higher level of competition, the UECL spot goes to the team that ranks sixth or seventh in the Premier League, depending on whether one of the top teams has won the FA Cup.
In the top countries that only have one major national cup competition, it should be easier.
In Spain, Germany and Italy the sixth team goes to the UECL in most cases, while in Ligue 1 it is the fifth-placed team that gets their place in the UECL play-offs.
Twenty teams that lose in the first qualifying round and preliminary round of the Champions League automatically switch to UECL qualification by entering the tournament.
Eight teams who lose in the Europa League third qualifying round then fall into the UECL process, which includes a champions path and a main path.
Is the Europa Conference League the same as the European Super League?
No, the Europa Conference League is not the same as the European Super League.
The European Super League is a proposed runaway competition sponsored by some of the best clubs on the continent.
It was reported last year that Man Utd and Liverpool were in talks to advance the creation of a new European Super League. So far, 12 clubs across Europe have been named as potential founding members of the league, including five from England.
The proposals would fundamentally change the competition between football teams on the continent. League organizers and FIFA reportedly put together a £ 4.6 billion package through various financiers
While the domestic leagues would remain, the new European Super League would effectively replace the current UEFA Champions League. UEFA is currently not involved in the new proposals.
The clubs currently considered to be founding members are: Man Utd, Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus.
More teams would be required to form the proposed 18-team league.
The coronavirus pandemic has widened the financial gap between the elite and the lower clubs, fueling the desire of the richest sides to move forward with their restructuring plans.
The current Champions League format is currently officially valid until 2024, and the UECL is an officially approved UEFA competition that fits into the currently established football calendar.
Europe’s third competition will not affect the operation of the Europa League and Champions League and will run alongside them.
The only change to any of these competitions is 32 teams instead of the current 48 teams playing in the Europa League group stage, ensuring that the same eight groups of four are in all three competitions.
What was the European Cup Winners’ Cup?
This is not the first time that UEFA has hosted three continental competitions in one season.
The European Cup Winners ‘Cup, known as the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, previously ran from 1960 until it was abolished in 1999.
This tournament took place alongside the Champions League / European Cup and the UEFA Cup, which later became known as the Europa League.
Fiorentina was the first winner of the competition in 1961, beating Rangers in the only final that was played over two legs.
Atletico Madrid won the second competition, defeating defending champion Fiorentina in the final.
In the last final of the competition, Lazio defeated Mallorca 2-1 on May 19, 1999 at Villa Park in England.
Barcelona had significant successes in the European Cup Winners’ Cup, winning the trophy four times in 1979, 1982, 1989 and 1997 in record highs. In total, they reached six finals and lost to Slovan Bratislava (1969) and Man Utd (1991). .
Barca were the only team to win it more than twice.
The two-time winners were Chelsea, Milan, Dynamo Kiev and Anderlecht.
Arsenal, PSG, Tottenham, Man City, Bayern, Juventus and Dortmund are among the other big clubs that have won it once.
The tournament began to decline in popularity in the 1990s before it was abolished.
One argument was that the growth of the Champions League diminished the quality and interest of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, as more teams from each of the top leagues qualified for the top competition than just the champions.
After the tournament was abolished, the winners of the national trophies entered an expanded UEFA Cup / Europa League.
So far, with the start of the UECL, the Europa League has been the only other main UEFA tournament outside of the Champions League.