UEFA approves third club competition

Ross Houston
December 3, 2018

More clubs from more associations will play European football from 2021, after the UEFA Executive Committee approved the creation of a third UEFA club competition for the 2021-2014 competition cycle at their meeting in Dublin.

European football's governing body had originally meant to introduce VAR from next season, starting in the the Champions League qualifying playoffs in August.

The Times revealed last month that Uefa is to fast-track the introduction of VARs after initially saying that it would only come in next season. This competition was borne out of ongoing dialogue with clubs through the European Club Association (ECA).

UEFA has been under increasing pressure to reform its club competitions by the threat of a breakaway super league formed by top clubs in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France.

"UEFA still plans to subsequently extend the use of VAR at the final tournament of UEFA EURO 2020, in the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League (group-stage onwards), and in the 2021 UEFA Nations League Finals".

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

The new competition will be played on Thursday nights alongside the Europa League.

The Europa League will mirror the new competition, so the group stage will be streamlined from 48 to 32 teams.

Every country's champions will still enter the Champions League, but only teams from the 15 top-ranked countries will go into the Europa League group stages or qualifiers.

In addition, before the last sixteen there will be a play-off round between teams finishing second in each group and teams to have finished third in their Europa League groups.

The format will see eight groups of four teams, followed by the round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and final.

The Champions League format does not change.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: "The new UEFA club competition makes UEFA's club competitions more inclusive than ever before".

At least 34 countries will have teams in a group stage, compared to 26 at the moment.

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