Ir­ish clubs set to be marginalised as Uefa plan third com­pe­ti­tion

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Sports - EM­MET MAL­ONE

Most Ir­ish clubs par­tic­i­pat­ing in Eu­ro­pean club com­pe­ti­tions look set to be marginalised in a re­or­gan­i­sa­tion from 2021, with the three Europa League places cur­rently re­served for sides from the league here ap­par­ently be­ing di­verted in­stead to a new third com­pe­ti­tion pro­vi­sion­ally en­ti­tled “UEL2”.

Some of the struc­tures are a lit­tle un­clear but in what ap­pears to be an­other vic­tory for the Con­ti­nent’s big­gest clubs and big­ger leagues, the pro­vi­sional “ac­cess list” pub­lished in the wake of Uefa’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing in Dublin yes­ter­day sug­gests that the Europa League’s sta­tus as a fall­back for club sides elim­i­nated from the Cham­pi­ons League will be cop­per-fas­tened, while the vast ma­jor­ity of sides from lower-ranked coun­tries will go into the new com­pe­ti­tion.

Un­der the new ar­range­ments, each of the three club com­pe­ti­tions will have league stages in­volv­ing 32 teams, all di­vided up into eight groups of four. The position of do­mes­tic cham­pi­ons is ar­guably en­hanced, with their chances of qual­i­fy­ing for the group stage of the Europa League im­proved.

The move was hailed last night by both Uefa and the ECA as a tri­umph for in­clu­siv­ity, but in fact it looks like the lat­est move to shunt less wealthy, less suc­cess­ful and less “at­trac­tive” clubs to the mar­gins.


Games in the new com­pe­ti­tion will be played on Thurs­day with a new, ear­lier time slot of 4.30pm cre­ated to fa­cil­i­tate the num­ber of matches to be squeezed in. It has pre­vi­ously been re­ported that the matches are likely to be streamed on­line rather than rights sold to tra­di­tional broad­cast­ers. Prize money will be con­firmed next year.

In the new com­pe­ti­tion the group win­ners will progress au­to­mat­i­cally to the last 16, but sec­ond-placed sides will have to face those that fin­ished third in the Europa League groups in ties to de­cide the other eight places.

It is, as ever, con­vo­luted stuff, aimed at pro­vid­ing as many back doors as pos­si­ble to big­ger clubs. The re­ac­tion from the rest is bound to de­pend on the prize money of­fered.

“There will be more matches for more clubs, with more as­so­ci­a­tions rep­re­sented in the group stages,” in­sists Uefa pres­i­dent Alek­sander Ce­ferin.


“There will be more matches for more clubs,” in­sists Uefa pres­i­dent Alek­sander Ce­ferin.

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