The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has officially unveiled a new club competition which is set to kick off in 2021.
The tournament, which will go by the name of the Europa Conference League, will act as a third tier competition behind UEFA’s two main club competition, the Champions League and the Europa League.
Extensive details regarding the contest are yet to be released, however, an article published by BBC Sport in September suggested that the new tournament will be primarily contested by teams from lower-ranked UEFA member associations.
In a tweet released on Tuesday night, UEFA stated: “The new competition will start in 2021 and is aimed at giving more clubs in more countries a chance to participate in European football.”
As was reported by BBC Sport, the tournament will use the same format as the Europa League, meaning there will be eight groups of four teams, with the winners and runners up of each group advancing directly into the last 16.
This comes after UEFA already confirmed that between 2021 and 2024 cycle, the number of competing teams in the Europa League will be cut down from 64 to 32 and a playoff round will be added between the group stage and last 16.
The new playoff round before the knockouts will also see teams that came second in their Europa Conference League group play against teams that came third in the Europa League groups.
UEFA also released a statement on its website which read: “The name of the third UEFA club competition was approved as UEFA Europa Conference League and its commercial concept was also ratified. The new competition, which will start in 2021, will have matches played on Thursdays with kick-off times at 18:45 CET and 21:00 CET, similar to the UEFA Europa League. The new early kick-off time will also be used for UEFA Champions League matches on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as of 2021 replacing the current 18:55 CET kick-off.”
The league winners from every country will still enter the Champions League, but only clubs from the top 15 ranked nations will go into the Europa League meaning clubs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland risk going into the Europa Conference League instead.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin commented on the increased representation that the new contest will offer European clubs: “The new 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 born out of ongoing dialogue with clubs through the European Club Association.”
UEFA also announced the venues for the next three Champions League finals, with Saint Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena (2021), Munich’s Allianz Arena (2022) and London’s Wembley Stadium (2023) all being confirmed.