More clubs across Europe will soon get to experience continental competition after UEFA announced a new club competition would begin in 2021.
The newly launched competition, currently known under the working title of UEL2, will feature 32 teams at the group stage of the competition.
UEFA’s new third tier competition ensures at least 34 countries will be represented in continental competition, a rise from the current figure of 26.
Upon making the announcement, UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin said: “The new UEFA club competition makes UEFA’s club competitions more inclusive than ever before. 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.
“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.”
Under the new changes, the Europa League will drop from 48 teams in the group stage to 32.
While the Champions League format will not undergo any changes, there will be a new look knockout format for the Europa League and the newly unveiled UEL2.
Prior to the Round of 16 stage, teams who finish second during the group stage of the newly created competition will face off against third place finishers in the Europa League in an additional knockout round.
This will be mirrored in the Europa League as second placed group finishers face off against teams who finish third in their respective Champions League group.
The newly created competition will be played on Thursday alongside the Europa League, holding a total of 141 matches.
All European competitions will see their finals played in the same week as announced by UEFA – Wednesday (new competition), Thursday (Europa League) and Saturday (Champions League).