UEFA have announced that there will be another brand-new European competition starting in 2021, with the catchy title of the UEFA Europa Conference League. This has been a complex announcement so we have attempted to break things down and make things a bit simpler for everybody to understand.
Which Premier League clubs will play in the competition?
Premier League clubs will be granted one entry into this new competition, a place that will be awarded to the winner of the League Cup. If the winner of that competition finishes in the top six, as Manchester City did last season, then the place would go to the team that finishes seventh. So if we take the standings from last season, Wolves would be the side entered into the new competition.
Essentially, if the League Cup dominance continues from the big six clubs, this will be a reward for being the best of the rest. Expect clubs like Everton, West Ham and Leicester to be in the mix every year.
When will it be played?
This new format will sit below the current Europa League and be played on a Thursday night, at the same time as its sister competition.
A statement on the UEFA website reads: “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.”
Why has it been created?
This competition has been designed to allow more countries and more clubs the chance to participate in European football although the Europa League will be shrinking, from its current 48 team format to 32 teams in the group stages, to move in line with the Champions League.
The Europa Conference League will also feature 32 teams to make every European competition the same, with two teams qualifying from a four-team group stage, into the two-legged knockout round of 16.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin commented: “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. There was a widespread demand by all clubs to increase their chances of participating more regularly in European competition.”
Will it affect the current format of the Champions League or Europa League?
The Champions League will remain unchanged but there will be slight changes to the Europa League. As previously mentioned, the competition will now feature 32 teams and, as in the Champions League, every team that finishes third in the group stages will drop into the lower level of competition.
Teams from the Champions League will drop into the Europa League as they do now and those third-placed teams in the Europa League group stages will go into the Europa Conference League. Simple.
Any other news?
At the UEFA press conference, as well as unveiling the new competition they also announced the host cities of the upcoming Champions League finals.
Saint Petersburg will host the final in 2021, Munich in 2022 and London in 2023. For the English capital, it will mark ten years since they last hosted the final, in which Arjen Robben scored a last-minute winner for Bayern against Dortmund.