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The Europa Conference League, How Will It Affect the Champions League and Europa League competitors?

Nigel is a football (soccer) fan since his childhood days. He also plays football as a left-back and is a long time fan of Liverpool FC.

Background Of The Existing Competitions

The 3 major competitions of UEFA

The 3 major competitions of UEFA

European Football, as dubbed by the mass media, is an annual event where professional Football (Soccer) clubs from the European top domestic leagues, get together and compete for the Champions League, Europa League or the new, Europa Conference League, depending on which placing they finished in their domestic leagues.

The Champions League (Formerly European Cup until 1992), was first conceived in 1955 and secured its place as the top European Club Competition to enter, while the Europa League (Formerly UEFA Cup until 2009) was first created in 1971, which established themselves as the second division of the competition and now, with the new addition to the party, The Europa Conference League, which aims to improve lower-ranked teams in the confederation.

A New Competition

Since 1955, there were only two major European Club Football Competitions, which were, the Champions League (Formerly European Cup) and the Europa League (Formerly UEFA Cup). Both of these, serves as the European competition a team can participate in to win more prestigious trophies.

The Europa Conference League was in the books as early as 2015, when UEFA considered to add another competition to make it a 3-tier (levels) competition where promotion and relegation exists. However, it was made into a reality in the year 2019, when UEFA announced the official name of the competition and on May 24th 2021, the competition received its trophy and identity.

UEFA Coefficient Ratings

understanding-the-landscape-of-european-club-football-competition

The list may be a little too long, so to summarize it, it is a ranking system for National Teams in the European Union to decide where do teams, both club and national teams, land in their respective competitions. In this article, we will focus on the Men's Association Coefficient where it ranks club teams.

Men's Association Coefficient is ranked based on the previous performance and results of the club in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, where there is a point system, winning a match gets the team 2 points, drawing the match gets 1 point and losing it gets 0 points.

In order to determine the association's coefficient for 1 season, the results and performances of the club for the past 5 seasons are collected are added in as bonus points. Bonus points can only be received if the team:

a) The club reached the Quarter-Final, Semi-Final or Final of both the leagues, which they will receive 1 bonus point.

B) The club had qualified for the group stages of the Champions League, which gives them 4 bonus points.

C) The club had qualified for the round of 16 (Last 16 teams) of the Champions League, which gives them 5 bonus points.

UEFA uses this coefficient system to determine which teams get automatic entry into the competition's group stage (often for the higher ranked teams) or which teams must go through the preliminary qualifying stages of the competition (often lower ranked teams).

Fun Fact!

Liechtenstein does not have an official Football (Soccer) League of their own, as they only have 7 active teams who are all playing in the Swiss Football League. UEFA does not allow a league with less than 8 teams to participate in their competitions.

How does qualification to The Europa Conference League work?

The qualification to join the Europa Conference League is similar to the other 2 competitions. Which team is able to join depends on their coefficient ranking in the UEFA system stated below:

- Nations ranked 1 to 5 will have 1 team participating.
- Nations ranked 6 to 15 will have 2 teams participating.
- Nations ranked 16 to 50 will have 3 teams participating.
- Nations ranked 51 to 55 will have 2 teams participating.
- Liechtenstein will have the winner of the Liechtenstein Football Cup to join.

To put it into a summarized format, we will only be looking at the stages from group stage onward.

The Group Stage will have 32 teams divided into 8 groups, 5 winners of the play-off stage for the champions path and 17 winners of the play-off stage for the non-champions path will be joined by the 10 teams eliminated from the Europa League play-off round. Winners of the group stage will automatically proceed to the knockout phase, runners-up will enter a play-off stage.

The Play-off stage for the last 16 places will have 8 runners-up of the group stage joined by 8 teams who finished 3rd in the Europa League group stage. The 8 winners will go on to the Knockout Phase.

The Knock out stage will have 8 winners of the UECL group stage joined with the 8 play-off stage winners to contest in a last 16.

The Quarter Finals stage has only 8 winners of the last 16 who will play against each other to enter the last 4, also known as the Semi-finals and the 2 winners will play in the Final for the Europa Conference League trophy and a spot in the next season's Europa League.

New Changes to the Champions League and Europa League Format in 2021

As usual, we will need to summarize the article, therefore, we will only be looking from the group stage perspective all the way to the finals, lets see what are the changes to the Champions League format and the Europa League format after the launch of the European Conference League in 2021.

Lets look at the Champions League First:

The group stage will have 32 teams and will be joined by the previous season's Champions League and Europa League's title holders (2 teams), 10 champions from nations ranked 1-10, 6 runners-up from nations ranked 1-6, 4 third-placed teams from nations ranked 1-4 and 4 fourth placed teams from nations ranked 1-4, which will be joined by 4 winners of the previous round (Champions path play-off round) and 2 winners from the previous round (League path play-off round).

The last 16 will consist of 8 winners of the group stage and 8 runners-up of the group stage, you may be wondering by now "What happens to the 3rd placed teams in the group stage?". Since the rest of the competition format will be pretty much the same, Quarter-finals (8 teams), Semi-Finals (4 teams) and Final (2 teams), so we'll talk about the Europa League now.

Here's an in-depth video on how the European Conference League changes the whole competition by Fiago.

The Europa League

Saying this again, we will only be covering the group stage onward to avoid absolute confusion.

The group stage will consist of 32 teams where 7 domestic cup winners from associations ranked 1-7, 1 domestic league fourth placed team from associations ranked 5th and 4 domestic league fifth placed teams from associations ranked 1-4 will join the competition at this stage, to be joined by 10 winners from the previous play-off round and 4 teams eliminated from the Champions League Champions path play-off round, 2 teams eliminated from the Champions League League path play-off round and 4 teams eliminated from the Champions League third qualifying round.

The Last 16 gets a little tricky, as the 8 winners of the group stage will proceed to the last 16, while 8 of the group stage runners-up will square off against the 8 third placed teams from the Champions League, the winner of the play-off round will proceed to the last 16.

This continues all the way until there are only 2 teams left in the competition to crown the winner of the Europa League and promotion of that team to the Champions League next season.

In a Nutshell

The new format sees all 3 of the competitions having 32 teams in their respective group stages. A new change here is, the third-placed Champions League group stage teams will enter a play-off round against the runners-up of the Europa League group stage, while those eliminated from the Europa League, will enter the European Conference League group stage instead.

Winner's of the Champions League will secure another spot in the competition in the following season while Winner's of the Europa League will secure a spot in the Champions League in the following season and Winner's of the Europa Conference League will secure a spot in the Europa League in the following season.

The only hope from most fans of the European Football scene, is that this new competition will provide more challenge for those in the Europa League (2nd tier) and provide us with new, formerly unknown, teams to participate, which will really give a new light to these teams.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin explaining the reason for the Europa Conference League by The Star

© 2021 Nigel Koay Talks Football

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