Format of Euro 2016 revealed
UEFA has revealed the format for the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with matches spread to ‘‘ensure a better visibility’’ of the competition.
The qualifying competition will involve 53 UEFA members, including Gibraltar.
The teams will be split into nine groups of five or six, with the top two in each section qualifying automatically for the finals, along with hosts France.
They will be joined by the best third-placed team, while the eight remaining thirdplaced teams will contest play-offs to determine the last four qualifiers.
The 2016 finals will see the number of competing teams increase from 16 to 24, which should ensure greater TV revenues for UEFA, and European football’s governing body is determined to extract maximum exposure from the qualifying tournament, too.
To that end, international weeks will extend from Thursday to Tuesday, with games being played every day in what has been dubbed the ‘‘Week of Football’’ concept.
On double-header matchweeks, teams play on Thursday/Sunday, Friday/Monday or Saturday/Tuesday.
‘‘ The fact we spread the European Qualifiers over several days as opposed to all teams playing on the same day will ensure a better visibility for the competition,’’ UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said.
The qualifying draw will take place in Nice on February 23 next year. The draw for the final tournament will be held in Paris on December 12, 2015, with the finals running from June 10 to July 10, 2016.
Mitch Nichols piggybacks teammate Connor Pain as he celebrates one of his two goals for Melbourne Victory against Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park last night