Europa League II set for 2021 bow

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL -

FOOT­BALL: There will be a third Euro­pean club com­pe­ti­tion from 2021, UEFA has an­nounced.

Pres­i­dent Alek­sander Ce­ferin said a “wide­spread de­mand” for par­tic­i­pa­tion at Euro­pean level had led to the for­ma­tion of the new tour­na­ment, which will sit un­der the Cham­pi­ons and Europa Leagues.

With a work­ing ti­tle of ‘UEL2’, the 32-team com­pe­ti­tion will start at the be­gin­ning of the new UEFA cy­cle, which runs from 2021-2024.

Eight groups of four will be whit­tled down to a round of 16, fol­low­ing a play-off be­tween the sec­ond-placed teams and those who fin­ish third in the Europa League.

Quar­ter-fi­nals and semi-fi­nals will then fol­low, be­fore a 141st game, the fi­nal.

“The new UEFA club com­pe­ti­tion makes UEFA’s club com­pe­ti­tions more in­clu­sive than ever be­fore,” Ce­ferin said.

“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 (ECA). There was a wide­spread de­mand by all clubs to in­crease their chances of par­tic­i­pat­ing more reg­u­larly in Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion.”

The win­ner of the new tour­na­ment will then earn a place in the Europa League.

UEFA added that the fix­tures will be played on a Thurs­day, the same day as the Europa League, with some games in a new time slot of 1630 CET.

The gov­ern­ing body will leave it to in­di­vid­ual as­so­ci­a­tions to de­cide the cri­te­ria for earn­ing a place, be it through league plac­ing or cup.

ECA chair­man An­drea Agnelli wel­comed the news, say­ing: “I am de­lighted that the UEFA Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee has agreed to the changes ECA mem­ber clubs have been call­ing for.

“We be­lieve that this out­come en­sures that the UEFA club com­pe­ti­tions con­tinue to de­velop in a man­ner which is fair and bal­anced.”

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