Welcome to the Europa Conference League
There is a new European football competition in town, as UEFA kicks off the Europa Conference League next season.
Sport Telegraph explains how the tournament will be structured and which English team will play in its first iteration:
What is the Europa Conference League?
Originally dubbed ‘Europa League 2’ (UEL2), the Europa Conference League is a new UEFA competition which is considered the third tier of European club football, behind the Champions League and the Europa League.
The competition will initially run for three seasons from 2021 to 2024, as UEFA assesses its viability. The first season will kick off with qualifying rounds in July, before the actual competition begins in September.
The idea behind the new competition is to allow more teams to gain experience of playing European football.
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said: “UEFA’s new club competition makes UEFA club competitions more inclusive than ever. There will be more matches for more clubs, with more associations represented in the group stages. ”
How will the competition work?
After three first qualifying rounds over the summer, which will involve up to 184 teams, the competition itself will follow a similar structure to the current Champions League iteration.
Thirty-two teams will advance to the group stage, with these teams divided into eight groups of four. There will then be a traditional last-16 knockout format to a final, with knockout matches played over two sets. As with other UEFA competitions, the away goals rule will apply.
In order to automatically qualify for the round of 16, a team must win its group. The second-placed team in each group will enter a qualifying round for the knockout stage, where they will face the third-placed teams from the Europa League groups. The winners of these matches will advance to the round of 16 of the Europa Conference League.
A total of 141 matches will be played over 15 weeks during the tournament itself. The winner of the tournament will automatically qualify for the Europa League next season.
How many English teams will qualify?
Only one English team will qualify for the Europa Conference League. The Europa Conference League had been awarded to the EFL Cup winners but will now go to the team that finished seventh after Manchester City’s successful League Cup defense.
Which English team will qualify this year?
As Manchester City win the Carabao Cup and automatically qualify for next season’s Champions League, the place for the first Europa Conference League will go to the team that finishes highest in the Premier League, failing to qualify. already for a UEFA competition (i.e. Champions League and Europa League).
Considering the current state of the Premier League table, one of West Ham, Tottenham, Everton, Arsenal and even Leeds (mathematically possible but highly unlikely) are in contention.
Tottenham are currently in seventh place with one round of matches remaining, with West Ham three points ahead of them in sixth. Everton are eighth, tied on points with Tottenham but with a significantly lower goal difference, while ninth Arsenal are with a shot, one point behind with a game to go.
Leeds are tenth, three points behind Spurs seventh, but have a slim chance if all the teams above them lose on the final day.
What are the remaining matches of the contenders?
West Ham (6th), played 37, 62 points, GD 12: Southampton (H)
Tottenham (7th), played 37, 59 points, GD 21: Leicester (A)
Everton (8th), played 37, 59 points, GD 4: Man City (A)
Arsenal (9th), played 37, 58 points, GD 14: Brighton (H)
Leeds (10th), played 37, 56 points, GD 6: West Brom (M)
What other teams will join the competition?
While champions from all countries will have the chance to qualify for the Champions League, all other teams from countries ranked below 15th place in the UEFA coefficients will enter the European Conference League rather than the European Conference League. Europa League.
The teams eliminated from the preliminary round and the first qualifying round of the Champions League will also go to the Conference League, as well as those eliminated from the third qualifying round, the play-off round and the third place of the Europa League of the phase of groups.
As a result of the new competition, the Europa League is also undergoing an overhaul.
How does this tournament affect the Europa League?
The Europa League will now be reduced. Currently 48 teams play in the group stage, but that number will now be reduced to 32. These teams will be split into eight groups of four, with the knockout format removing the last 32 rounds, instead of going straight to the last 16. . .
As with the Europa Conference League, the group winners will go straight into the bottom 16, while the group runners-up will play in a knockout round against the teams placed third in the Champions League groups. The winners of this round will advance to the final of the Europa League.
When will the matches be played and where will they be broadcast?
All matches will be played on Thursday, the same day as the Europa League. The group stage will run from September to December.
The playoffs for the final 16 will be a two-legged affair in February, before the knockout round takes place from March through May. The inaugural final will take place on May 25, 2022 in Tirana, Albania.
As with all other European competitions, BT Sport will hold the exclusive broadcast rights to the matches in the UK.