More spots will be up for grabs especially for teams from low co-efficient leagues.
The Union of European Football Associations better known as UEFA is reported to have come to a unanimous decision to launch a third European club competition from the start of the 2021/22 season, European Club Association (ECA) president Andrea Agnelli has confirmed.
In his opening address at the ECA’s biannual general meeting in Split on Tuesday, the Juventus chairman said, “Pending approval of the UEFA executive committee, the green light has been given to introduce a third competition, bringing the overall number of clubs to 96, as of the 2021/22 season.”
Consequently, the Europa League group stage would be reduced from 48 teams to a 32-team affair, with the new competition and the Champions League all having the same number.
The unnamed competition is being brought in to raise the Europa League’s profile, while also providing more clubs with a shot at European glory. In recent weeks, UEFA has said it is “constantly reviewing” its competitions and has been “discussing various ideas within its Club Competitions Committee, before any decision on potential changes would be made.”
Details of how the new competition will work remain uncertain, but it will not be a straight replacement for the Cup Winners’ Cup, which was discontinued in 1999. It is more likely that it will be a Champions League-lite, with entry limited to teams from Europe’s weaker national leagues.
While this is undoubtedly attractive for the clubs, many of whom are among the ECA’s 232 members, it is likely to cause alarm for European Leagues, the organisation that represents leagues in 25 countries, many of whom are already concerned about the effect UEFA prize money has on the competitive balance of their competitions.
As well as the future of Europe’s club competitions, Agnelli told ECA members that UEFA’s revised Financial Fair Play rules “will be even more effective than the ones we had in place which delivered astonishing results” – this being a reference to the dramatic reduction in club debt since the cost-control measures were introduced in 2011.
As reported by the Guardian, Agnelli has also stated that the clubs want a “detailed assessment of the existing international match calendar” after 2024, as the “current model needs modernizing.”