Explained: What is the third European competition & how will it change Champions League & Europa League?

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UEFA have confirmed details of a new tournament to launch in the next few years, but how is it different to the Champions League and Europa League?

UEFA have announced a new third European club competition to start in a few years – but what is it, is it the same as the European Super League, how will it affect the Champions League and which teams will qualify? 

Goal takes a look at everything you need to know about the new tournament and more.


What is the third European club competition?


Plans for a new, third European club competition have been announced by UEFA to run from 2021-24.

Under the working title of "UEL2", the tournament will be seen as the third-tier of European football competition, following the Europa League and Champions League (which is the most elite). 

The UEL2 will comprise of 32 teams with eight groups of four. They will then be whittled down to a round of 16, following a play-off fixture between the second-placed teams and those who finish third in the Europa League. 

Quarter-finals and semi-finals will follow suit, before a 141st game - the final of the competition. 

The creation of the new European club tournament was approved following a recent meeting in Dublin, with UEFA stating that its inception will make sure that at least 34 European countries will be represented in the group stages of the UEL2. 

The winner of the UEL2 will then automatically qualify for the following season's Europa League campaign, starting from the group stage. 

UEFA added that UEL2 fixtures will be played on Thursdays, the same day as Europa League matches, with an earlier kickoff of 3:30pm GMT.  

The governing body is yet to confirm the criteria for earning a place in the UEL2, stating that they will leave such decisions to individual associations – be it through league placement or cup finishes (as well as elimination from the Europa League).


Why have UEFA announced a third European club competition?


UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin stated that the introduction of a new third European competition at club level was to address "widespread demand" for a tournament that is more accommodating to teams. 

“The new UEFA club competition makes UEFA's club competitions more inclusive than ever before," Ceferin said. 

“There will be more matches for more clubs, with more associations represented in the group stages. This competition was borne out of ongoing dialogue with clubs through the European Club Association (ECA). 

“There was a widespread demand by all clubs to increase their chances of participating more regularly in European competition. 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.” 

ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli added: "I am delighted that the Uefa Executive Committee has agreed to the changes ECA member clubs have been calling for. 

“We believe that this outcome ensures that the Uefa club competitions continue to develop in a manner which is fair and balanced, meeting the demands and requirements necessary to ensure that football remains the number one sport globally. 

“I would like to add that this whole process is testimony to the strong collaborative efforts of both ECA and UEFA at all levels."


How will UEL2 impact the Europa League and Champions League?


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The UEL2 will not impact the current makeup of the Europa League and the Champions League and will run alongside it. 

Those who are eliminated from the group stage in the Europa League will drop down to the UEL2. 

The UEL2 is not the same as the rumoured European Super League, which is a proposed tournament featuring only elite teams from Europe (such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Juventus) playing in their own private league – effectively ending their involvement in both their domestic leagues and Champions League.

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