ECA says clubs to get third UEFA competition, opening Euro play to 96 clubs

September 12 – A week after reports that UEFA were considering re-introducing a third European club competition to run alongside the Champions league and Europa League, the clubs appear to have stolen the organisation’s thunder by confirming it will take place.

Almost 20 years after the demise of the European Cup Winners’ Cup, the new tournament will come into effect from 2021-22 according to the European Clubs Association (ECA), giving  Europe’s minnows the chance to play outside their domestic leagues and make the Europa League stronger, with more marketing and sponsorship potential.

At a media briefing after the body’s general assembly in Croatia,  ECA boss and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli (pictured) 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.”

UEFA has for a number of seasons been looking at ways to raise the Europa League’s profile, particularly commercially, while also giving more clubs a shot at European competition. In recent weeks it said it has been “discussing various ideas within its Club Competitions Committee before any decision on potential changes would be made.”

Clubs call for video refs

Agnelli again pushed UEFA to introduce the video assistant refereeing system in the Champions League and Europa League from “next season.”

“We cannot go back, we want VAR to be adopted in UEFA competitions as soon as possible,” declared Agnelli.

“I spoke to UEFA President Aleksandar Ceferin about this, he understands our position and told us that VAR will be implemented, but UEFA are comprised of 53 federations and an appropriate preparation is needed before they can proceed.

“We are very respectful with regards to UEFA’s request that the referees are given proper training so they can maintain the standard set by the leagues that have already introduced VAR.

“We hope that next season UEFA can be in a position to introduce the technology into the Champions League and Europa League. We are all working in that direction.”

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