OFFICIAL: UEFA introduce third club competition
UEFA announced that a third club competition, the UEFA Europa League 2, will enter the footballing scene starting the 2021/22 season.
UEFA Europa League 2. This will be third club competition on the UEFA calendar starting the 2021/22 season. There have been talks for some time that UEFA will add a new club competition and it became official after Europe’s governing body met on Sunday in Dublin, Ireland.
The new competition aims to give an opportunity to clubs from Europe’s weaker associations to compete on the European scene. Currently, each association earns representatives in the UEFA Champions and Europa League, however, many of these clubs are eliminated in the qualifying rounds and see their European journey come to an end in the summer, after just a couple of matches.
The format of the new competition is still being discussed with just a few details released after Sunday’s meeting. Here are some of the details
The competition will house games on Thursday, along with the current Europa League.
There will be qualifying rounds (format to be announced) preceding the 32-team group stages where teams will be separated into eight groups of four teams.
The top team from each group will advance to the knockout stages of the competition while the second placed team from each group will play in a playoff with third placed teams from the Europa League group stages.
The eight group winners and the eight winners from the playoffs will form the 16-team Europa League 2 knockout phase.
Knockout matches will take place until the final.
The winner of the Europa League 2 will be given an automatic place in the following year’s Europa League group stages.
UEFA Champions League & Europa League changes
The new UEFA competition is expected to affect the current format of the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds but also the UEFA Europa League qualifying, group, and knockout stages. Although nothing has been made official, the UEFA Europa League group stage is expected to be decreased from 48 to 32 teams, with eight groups of four teams. Thus all three UEFA competitions will have a 32-team group stage.
The top team from each Europa League group will advance to the round of 16 whereas the second placed teams will be paired in a playoff with a third placed team from the UEFA Champions League for a place in the Europa League knockout stages (a similar format as explained above in the Europa League and Europa League 2 competition). That means that the Champions League third placed teams from the group stages along with the Europa League’s second placed teams, will not be guaranteed a spot in the Europa League knockout stages (the current format), but a playoff will take place between these teams for that honor.
In addition, domestic championship winners from UEFA’s lower ranked associations will be given an automatic place in the Europa League group stages. Along with this change and the reduction in teams in the group stages (from 48 to 32), a significantly fewer amount of teams will qualify for the Europa League via the actual qualification process.
The UEFA Champions League group stage format will not change, with the top two teams from each group expected to advance to the Last 16 of the competition. The only change noted above has to do with the third placed teams and their “relegation” to the Europa League. The qualifying format will change, considering that domestic champions form certain associations will automatically enter the Europa League group stages and will avoid the Champions League qualifying process all together.
The finals of all three UEFA club competitions will take place on the same week starting with the Europa League 2 final on Wednesday, the Europa League final on Thursday, and the big Champions League final on Saturday.
More information about these changes will be released on AGONAsport.com as they are announced and how this will affect Greece’s teams on the European stage.