UEFA Europa Conference League

The UEFA Europa Conference League (abbreviated as UECL) is a planned annual football club competition, starting in 2021, by UEFA for eligible European football clubs.[1] Clubs will qualify for the competition based on their performance in their national leagues and cup competitions. It will be the third tier of European club football, after the Champions League and the Europa League.

UEFA Europa Conference League
Founded2021 (planned)
RegionEurope (UEFA)
Number of teams32 (group stage)
8 clubs join after Europa League group stage[a]
184 (total)
Qualifier forUEFA Europa League
Related competitionsUEFA Champions League (1st tier)
UEFA Europa League (2nd tier)
Television broadcastersList of broadcasters
2021–22 UEFA Europa Conference League

The competition is scheduled to run from the 2021–22 season, and will serve as the bottom level of the existing UEFA Europa League competition, which is due to be reduced to 32 teams in the group stage. The competition will primarily be contested by teams from lower-ranked UEFA member associations.[1] No teams will qualify directly to the group stage, with 10 teams eliminated in the Europa League play-offs and the rest coming from the Europa Conference League qualifiers.

HistoryEdit

UEFA had reportedly considered adding a third-tier competition since at least 2015, believing that a bottom-level tournament could act as a means of giving clubs from lower-ranked UEFA member countries a chance of progressing to the later stages beyond the stages they usually are eliminated in the Champions League and Europa League.[2] In mid-2018, talk of an announcement intensified, with news sources claiming an agreement had already been reached for the competition to be launched and that the 48-team Europa League group stage would be split in two, with the lower half forming the nucleus of what would be the new event.[3]

On 2 December 2018, UEFA announced that the competition – provisionally known as "Europa League 2" or just "UEL2" – was to be launched as part of the 2021–24 three-year competition cycle, with UEFA adding that the new tournament would bring "more matches for more clubs and more associations".[4]

The official name of the competition, "UEFA Europa Conference League", was announced on 24 September 2019.[5]

FormatEdit

QualificationEdit

Similar to the UEFA Champions League, qualification to the Europa Conference League will be split into two "paths" – the Champions Path and the League Path. Unlike the Champions League, however, the Champions Path will only be contested by teams which lost the qualification for the Champions League group stage and consequently have been relegated directly into the UECL.

The association ranking based on the UEFA country coefficients is used to determine the number of participating teams in the league path for each association:[6]

  • Nations ranked 1 to 5 will have one team;
  • Nations ranked 6 to 15 will have two teams;
  • Nations ranked 16 to 50 will have three teams;
  • Nations ranked 51 to 55 will have two teams;
  • Liechtenstein does not have a domestic league and will provide the winner of the Liechtenstein Football Cup irrespective of their coefficient ranking.

Based on this reorganisation, no association will benefit from more berths to continental football than they had before the 2021–24 competition cycle, with the tournament essentially being the lower orders of the existing Europa League tournament but split off into a secondary tournament.

Group stage and knockout phaseEdit

The format will see eight groups of four teams, followed by the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. An additional preliminary knockout round will be played before the round of 16 between teams ranked second in their groups and the third-ranked teams of the UEFA Europa League groups. The new competition will feature 141 matches over 15 match weeks.[4]

The winner of the new competition will be entitled to participate in the UEFA Europa League in the following season. The new competition matches will be played on Thursdays.[4]

Distribution (from 2021–22 to 2023–24)Edit

All qualification berths are based on UEFA's default assumption that each association will submit one domestic cup winner as its highest-ranked qualifier after those eligible to enter the Champions League, and will define its remaining entrants by their league position in the previous year. England allocates its lowest-ranked qualification place to the winners of the EFL Cup.

Teams entering in this round Teams advancing from previous round Teams transferred from Champions League Teams transferred from Europa League
First qualifying round
(72 teams)
  • 26 domestic cup winners from associations 30–55
  • 25 domestic league runners-up from associations 30–55 (except Liechtenstein)
  • 21 domestic league third-placed teams from associations 29–50 (except Liechtenstein)
Second qualifying round Champions
(20 teams)
  • 17 teams eliminated from Champions League first qualifying round
  • 3 teams eliminated from Champions League preliminary round
Non-champions
(90 teams)
  • 14 domestic cup winners from associations 16–29
  • 14 domestic league runners-up from associations 16–29
  • 16 domestic league third-placed teams from associations 13–28
  • 9 domestic league fourth-placed teams from associations 7–15
  • 1 domestic league fifth-placed team from association 6
  • 36 winners from the first qualifying round
Third qualifying round Champions
(10 teams)
  • 10 winners from the second qualifying round for champions
Non-champions
(52 teams)
  • 6 domestic league third-placed teams from associations 7–12
  • 1 domestic league fourth-placed team from association 6
  • 45 winners from the second qualifying round for non-champions
Play-off round Champions
(10 teams)
  • 5 winners from the third qualifying round for champions
  • 5 teams eliminated from Europa League third qualifying round for champions
Non-champions
(34 teams)
  • 1 domestic league fifth-placed team from association 5
  • 4 domestic league sixth-placed teams from associations 1–4 (EFL Cup winners for England)
  • 26 winners from the third qualifying round for non-champions
  • 3 teams eliminated from Europa League third qualifying round for non-champions
Group stage
(32 teams)
  • 5 winners from the play-off round for champions
  • 17 winners from the play-off round for non-champions
  • 10 teams eliminated from Europa League play-off round
Preliminary knockout round
(16 teams)
  • 8 group runners-up from the group stage
  • 8 group third-placed teams from Europa League group stage
Knockout phase
(16 teams)
  • 8 group winners from the group stage
  • 8 winners from the preliminary knockout round

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The second-placed teams in each group advance to the preliminary knockout round, where they are joined by the eight third-place teams in the Europa League group stage.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "'Europa League 2': Uefa confirms new tournament from 2021". BBC Sport. 2 December 2018. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Uefa ponders third competition beneath Champions League and Europa League". The Guardian. 16 September 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Uefa set to introduce third European club competition from 2021–22". The Guardian. 11 September 2018. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "UEFA Executive Committee approves new club competition". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 2 December 2018. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  5. ^ "Format change for 2020/21 UEFA Nations League". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 24 September 2019.
  6. ^ "UEL2 Access List 2021–24" (PDF). UEFA. 2 December 2018. Retrieved 2 December 2018.

External linksEdit