Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton, Arsenal and several other clubs could find themselves in UEFA’s new competition in the Conference League next season. But what is it?
UEFA’s Europa Conference League will be UEFA’s third club competition and will be run together with the Champions League and Europa League.
The idea behind the Europa League of Conferences is to give more clubs a taste of European football, especially to countries from countries struggling to qualify for the other two UEFA competitions. But there is room for plunder and for English clubs.
Who qualifies from the Premier League?
It is increasingly likely that the seventh-placed Premier League team will qualify.
The winner of the Carabao Cup is guaranteed to qualify for the qualifying round for the Europa League. But after Manchester City lift the trophy – they have already secured a place in the Champions League qualifier – their place will be carried over to the next top-ranked Premier League that did not qualify for UEFA competition.
Meanwhile, Chelsea face Leicester in the FA Cup final, and both sides are currently among the top four in the Premier League. If they stay there, they will qualify for the Champions League, which means that the qualifying place for the Europa League to win the FA Cup will be transferred to the next best-ranked Premier League that did not qualify for UEFA competition.
Provided Chelsea and Leicester remain in the top five – or if Thomas Tuchel continues to lift the Champions League – Premier League seventh-placed team will qualify for the Europa League next season.
Will the schedule be on Thursdays?
Yes. The schedule of Europa League and Europa League matches is held on Thursdays, and the starting tournaments start at 17.45 and 20.00 British time.
The competition should start in 2021/22 and will last at least during the 2021/24 cycle.
How does it work?
Prior to the group stage, the first qualifying round, the second qualifying round, the third qualifying round and then the play-off round will take place.
The English team will enter the playoffs, a two-legged affair on August 19 and 26. The Premier League season begins on the weekend of August 14th.
Eight group winners automatically advance to the final 16. Additional playoffs in the knockout round will be played before the round of 16 between the eight second-placed and third-placed Europa League group teams.
Qualifying round dates
|Phase||First leg||Second leg|
|First qualification||July 8||July 15|
|Second qualification (Scottish teams enter)||July 22||July 29|
|Third qualification||August 5||August 12|
|Play-off (The English team enters)||August 19||August 26|
This means that the English team, if it reaches the finals of the Europa Conference League, will play an additional 15 games or 17 games if it finishes second in its group.
Group phase dates
|Matchday 1||September 16|
|Matchday 2||September 30th|
|Matchday 3||October 21|
|Matchday 4||November 4|
|Matchday 5||November 25|
|Matchday 6||December 9th|
The finals will take place on May 25th in Tirana, Albania.
Knockout phase dates
|Phase||First leg||Second leg|
|Knockout playoffs||February 17th||February 24th|
|Round of 16||March 10||March 17|
|Quarterfinals||April 7||April 14|
|Semifinals||April 28||May 5|
The new structure for UEFA club competitions will ensure that at least 34 UEFA national associations are represented in the group stage of one or more competitions.
Spain, England, Germany, Italy and France have one team each, while Scotland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Russia and Belgium have two each.
What does this mean for Scottish teams?
Already firmly in third and fourth place in the Scottish Premiership, Hibernian i Aberdeen they have already qualified for the Europa Conference League next season, joining the Second Qualifying Round.
Those matches will be played on July 22 and July 29. The Scottish Premiership season starts on the weekend of July 31.