The UEFA Europa Conference League is an upcoming football club competition run by UEFA for eligible European football teams.
The competition will start at the beginning of the 2021/2022 season; it will primarily be contested by teams from the lower-ranked UEFA member associations – So what’s this new competition all about?
What Teams Will Qualify?
The association ranking based on the UEFA country coefficients is used to determine the number of participating teams in the league path for each association:
- Nations ranked 1 to 5 will have one team.
- Nations ranked 6 to 15 will have two teams.
- Nations ranked 16 to 50 will have three teams.
You can see the UEFA coefficient by clicking here.
Currently, Spain is top with England in second place.
Which English Teams Will Take Part?
England will have one team taking part. This will either be the team that wins the EFL Cup, or if the team that wins that competition finishes in the top 5, then that spot will go to the team that finishes in 6th place in the Premier League.
If the competition had started in 2020/2021 then Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur would have been involved. Had Aston Villa beaten Man City in last season’s EFL Cup Final then they would have been the team to enter.
What’s The Format?
The format will see eight groups of four teams, followed by the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.
An additional knockout round will be played before the round of 16 between teams ranked second in their groups and the third-ranked teams of the UEFA Europa League groups. The new competition will feature 141 matches over 15 match weeks.
The winner of the new competition will be entitled to participate in the UEFA Europa League in the following season. The new competition matches will be played on Thursdays.
Why Has UEFA Introduced The Competition?
UEFA said: “The new structure for UEFA club competitions will ensure that at least 34 UEFA national associations are represented in the group stage of one or more competitions.”
What Do The Winners Get?
The winner of the new competition will be entitled to enter the following season’s UEFA Europa League group stage. Prize money for the winners and other participants are expected to be announced over the next few months but it has been suggested that it will be a significant amount for some of the smaller European teams.
What Impact Will It Have?
The introduction of the UEFA Europa Conference League will have no impact on the Champions League. The UEFA Europa League group stage will soon be reduced from 48 to 32 teams, which will consist of eight groups of four.
What Are People Saying?
Some people and journalists have been critical of the new competition. An article in The Guardian said the new competition was: “UEFA caving into apparently non-existent demands for a competition football fans were unaware they needed.”
It goes onto say: “Although this new competition will ensure more clubs than ever get to muddy their spats in European competition, it seems abundantly clear it will tighten the stranglehold of those rich grandees from the English, Spanish, French, Italian and German leagues who consider their place among the continental elite not so much a privilege as a divine and inalienable right.”
One Twitter user joked: “Sounds like an Arsenal inspired competition.”
Another held angrier views towards the competition: “Ruining European football since 1954. UEFA Conference League. what a joke! No Norwegian or Swedish teams will enter the Europa League from 2021. More money or the few, less money for the rest! Soon they will ruin league football with a super league as well. Mafia UEFA!”
History Of Other UEFA Competitions?
Previously, some teams competed in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup. This was discontinued in 1999 as UEFA expanded the Champions League. The Cup Winners Cup was for teams who won their main domestic cup competition.
Watch: All UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Winners List (1961-1999)
The UEFA Intertoto Cup, abolished in 2008, was a summer competition for teams that had not qualified for any of the other UEFA competitions. The Intertoto Cup provided opportunities for different teams to have experience playing European matches.