UEFA is set to launch a third European club competition from the start of the 2021/22 season, European Club Association (ECA) president Andrea Agnelli confirmed yesterday.
In his opening address at the biannual ECA general meeting in Split, the Juventus chairman 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.”
This means the Europa League’s group stage would be reduced from 48 teams to 32, the same as the new competition and the Champions League the new competition and the Champions League all having the same number.
Uefa has made little secret of the fact it has been looking at ways to raise the Europa League’s profile while also giving more clubs a shot at European competition and therefore its ever-growing financial benefits, too.
In recent weeks, Uefa has said it is “constantly reviewing” its competitions and has been “discussing various ideas within its club competitions committee before any decision on potential changes would be made.”
But with Agnelli and Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis representing the ECA on Uefa’s 17-member executive, it would seem the decision is a done deal.
Details on how the new competition will work remain uncertain, but it will not be a straight replacement for the Cup Winners Cup, which was discontinued in 1999.
It is more likely that it will be a Champions League-lite, with entry limited to teams from Europe’s weaker national leagues.
While this is undoubtedly attractive to the clubs, many of whom are among the 232 ECA members, it is likely to cause alarm at European Leagues, the organisation that represents leagues in 25 countries, many of whom are already concerned about the effect Uefa prize money has on the competitive balance of their competitions.
As well as the future of Europe’s club competitions, Agnelli told ECA members that Uefa’s revised financial fair play rules “will be even more effective than the ones we had in place which delivered astonishing results” — a reference to the dramatic reduction in club debt since the cost-control measures were introduced in 2011.
Agnelli also said clubs want a “detailed assessment of the existing international match calendar” after 2024, as the “current model needs modernising.”
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.