The European Football Association, UEFA has confirmed it will begin a third continental competition with the working title ‘Europa League 2’ which will kick off in 2021.
The new tournament will be played on Thursdays alongside the Europa League while the Champions League remains on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the format does not change.
As part of Uefa’s 2021-2024 cycle, the Europa League will be halved in size to 32 teams with an extra play-off round between the group stage and last 16.
Every European country’s champions will still enter the Champions League, but the other teams from smaller countries will go straight into ‘UEL2’ qualifying instead of the Europa League’s early rounds.
The new competition and Europa League will have the same format – eight groups of four teams with the winners going into the last 16.
There will be a play-off before that round for the teams who finish second in the group and sides who finish third in the groups of the higher tournament.
The winners of the tournament will qualify for the following season’s Europa League.
Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said: “The new competition makes Uefa’s club competitions more inclusive than ever before. There will be more matches for more clubs, with more associations represented in the group stages.
“This competition was born out of ongoing dialogue with clubs through the European Club Association.”
At least 34 countries will have teams in a group stage, compared to 26 at the moment.
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