Macdara Ferris reports from the Convention Centre Dublin
Amongst all the drama of Sunday’s EURO 2020 draw, details have emerged of a new club competition being organised by UEFA.
A third European club competition has been created with a working title of UEL2 – the marketing gurus will come with a better name soon we hope!
The winner of the new competition will be entitled to participate in the Europa League in the following season.
The competition will mirror the existing Champions League and Europa League with 32 teams competing in a group stage.
The format will see eight groups of four teams, followed by a round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.
The competition will feature teams dropping down from the Europa League group stage as an additional knock-out round will take place before the round of 16 between teams ranked second in their groups and the third-ranked teams of the UEFA Europa League groups.
Overall the new competition will feature 141 matches played across 15 match weeks with games played on Thursday all in a similar fashion to the Europa League.
From next season all club competition finals will be played in the same week with UEL2 having its final on the Wednesday, Europa League Final on the Thursday with Saturday for the Champions League Final.
With the addition of this third competition it means 34 countries will be represented in the group stages of the UEFA club competitions compared with the current format of 26.
All countries will have access to the three club competitions and they will keep the same overall access quota as they currently have.
“The new UEFA club competition makes UEFA’s club competitions more inclusive than ever before,” said UEFA President Aleksander ?eferin.
“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.”
The UEFA Executive Committee on Sunday approved the competition format and the access list for the new competition. An increased minimum financial guarantee for all clubs in the UEFA Europa League and the new competition has also been included.
There has also been a change to the Europa League which will have a similarly format with an additional knock-out round played before the round of 16 between teams ranked second in their groups and the third-ranked teams of the UEFA Champions League groups.