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UEFA expands European horizons with go-ahead for third club competition from 2021

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December 3 – UEFA have confirmed plans for a ground-breaking third club competition to sit below the Champions League and Europa League from 2021.

Provisionally called UEL2, the idea was approved by the UEFA executive committee on Sunday with games to be played on Thursday nights – like the Europa League – to allow more clubs in more countries the chance to be represented.

The format will see eight groups of four teams, with an additional knockout round which will be played before the round of 16 between teams ranked second in their groups and the third-ranked teams in the groups of the Europa League, which will run concurrently.

The Europa League group stage will be reduced from 48 teams to 32 while third-placed teams in the Champions League will take on Europa League group runners-up.

“The new UEFA club competition makes UEFA’s club competitions more inclusive than ever before,” UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said. “There will be more matches for more clubs, with more associations represented in the group stages.”

“There was a widespread demand by all clubs to increase their chances of participating more regularly in European competition,” Ceferin said. “This has been achieved with a strategic approach, and in accordance with UEFA’s objective of having both more quality and more inclusivity in our club competitions.”

UEFA said that the Champions League would remain unaltered, meaning that the four top-ranked leagues – currently Spain, England, Germany and Italy – would each keep four guaranteed places in the group stage.

UEFA said the new setup would ensure that at least 34 countries would be represented in the group stages of UEFA club competitions, compared to today’s total of 26.

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