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What is UEFA’s new Europa Conference League?

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To be perfectly honest, 1 hour before writing this we had never heard about the new club competition that UEFA will soon be introducing, so we assumed that hardly anyone else had either. So we’ve done a bit of research and made a brief explanation of what UEFA’s new Europa Conference League is all about.

What is it?

The Europa Conference League is a third-tier European club competition below the Champions League and the Europa League and will follow a similar format to both the Champions League and the Europa League where there will be 32 teams assigned to 8 groups of 4, a round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and naturally the final. However, there will be a preliminary knockout round played before the round of 16 where the teams who finished second in their groups will face teams who finish third in Europa League groups, with the winners progressing to the round of 16. As it stands, the games are set to be played on Thursday nights either at 5:45pm and 8pm, so the games will clash with Europa League matches.

Which clubs will be involved?

There are 2 ways for clubs to qualify for the competition:
The first is through cup performance, where it is likely that the winners of the Carabao Cup will qualify for the playoff round of the competition,
The second if through domestic league performance, where the team who finishes either sixth or seventh in the Premier League will qualify, but this will only be the case if the winner of the Carabao Cup has qualified for either the Champions League or the Europa League.
Regarding other nations, there will be different numbers of teams depending on the ranking of the nation:

  • Nations ranked 1-5 (England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France) will have 1 team each.
  • Nations ranked 6-15 (Portugal, Russia, Belgium, Netherlands, Ukraine, Turkey, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece ) will have 2 teams each.

Clubs who haven’t won their domestic league from nations who are ranked lower than 15 (such as Rangers and Partizan Belgrade this season) will no longer qualify for the Europa League and go straight into the Europa Conference League.

Why is it being introduced?

UEFA had reportedly been planning to introduce the competition since 2015 with the intention of giving more clubs the opportunity to play European football as well as giving clubs who tend to only reach the group stages a chance to progress to the latter stages of a competition.

When does it start?

The competition is set to commence during the 2021/2022 season.