UEFA Europe conference league: Everything you need to know

It is a new football league that has been started recently by UEFA. It has been started to make it more accommodating for the smaller countries. Clubs will qualify to play in the European conference league based on their performance in the national leagues and Cup competitions. In this article, we will cover all the details regarding the Europe conference league that you need to know. 

What is the UEFA Europa Conference League?

UEFA Europe conference league: Everything you need to know

It is the new third-tier of European competition, below the Champions League and the Europa League. 

It is the newly-introduced third tier of European competition with the Champions League and the Europa League coming on the top of it. The UEFA Europa League is for the domestic winners who did not get the opportunity to play for much larger tournaments. It is specifically for those who qualify by the league place and for those who are cup winners from the lower-ranked leagues. 

From KF Tirana to FC Flora to Kuopion Palloseura to Ararat-Armenia to Faroe Islands’ Klaksvikar Itrottarfelag, these teams will be playing for the group stage of the UEFA Europa Conference League in the future. 

How many teams will be in the UEFA Europa Conference League?

UEFA Europa conference league will consist of 32 teams divided into 8 groups of 4, Exactly like the Europa League. In total, 184 teams will participate at some stage. 

Who will play in the UEFA Europa Conference League?

In the simple language, those teams which have got entry into the Europa League at the preliminary round, first and second qualifying round will play for the UEFA Europa conference League.

As the objective of the competition is to give the smaller countries more group-stage football, only five clubs will enter from the top leagues-all of which will enter in the final qualifying round. The lowest-ranked team in each of these national domestic leagues will go from the Europa League to the Conference league. 

There is no automatic process for the group stage team to qualify for the group stage. And only five teams from the top leagues would get to play in the qualifying round. If Villarreal wins the Europe League, they will enter into the Champions League and Spain will have no representation in the Europa Conference league. The qualifying rounds are automatically balanced.  

Now the question arises that who will be playing in the inaugural edition of this new competition? Here are the who clubs will participate from the second qualifying round onwards. 

In the final qualifying round: Tottenham, Union Berlin, AS Roma, Stade Rennes

In the second qualifying round: Santa Clara, Sochi, Gent, Vorskla Poltava, Feyenoord, Sivasspor, Austria Vienna, FC Copenhagen, Aarhus, Hibernian, Aberdeen, Slovacko, Viktoria Plzen, Apollon Limassol, AEL Limassol, FC Basel, Servette, Aris Thessaloniki, AEK Athens, Partizan, Cukaricki, Vojvodina, Osijek, Rijeka, Hajduk Split, IF Elfsborg, BK Hacken, Molde, Valerenga, Rosenborg, Maccabi Tel Aviv, FC Ashdod, Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Tobol, Astana, Shakhter Karagandy, BATE Borisov, Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino, Dynamo Brest, Kesla, Qarabag, Sumgayit, CSKA Sofia, Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Arda, Universitatea Craiova, FCSB, Sepsi, Rakow Czestochowa, Pogon Szczecin, Dunajska Streda, Vaduz, Olimpija Ljubljana, Upjest, F91 Dudelange, Panevezys.

In the third qualifying round: Pacos de Ferreira, Rubin Kazan, Anderlecht, Kolos Kovalivka, Vitesse, Trabzonspor, LASK, Luzern, PAOK

Who else is expected to be involved? 

Those teams which lose in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League and Europe League will trickle down to the Europe Conference League. 

Second Qualifying round: 20 losers from the Champions League Qualifying will enter. 

Playoff round: 8 losers from the Europa League Third-qualifying round enter. 

Group Stage: 10 losers from Europe League Playoff round enter

Knockout stage: 8 third-placed teams from the Europe League group will enter. 

When will the UEFA Europa Conference League begin?

The opening matches of the first qualifying round were played on Tuesday, July 6. One Bonus for teams from the top leagues is they only have to play one qualifying round (rather than the three of recent seasons in the Europe League). So, Their road will begin on Aug. 19 with two matches to play (one tie) rather than six. 

Why has UEFA Europa Conference League been created?

It named “Europe league” as a working title, the competition was introduced to give chance to the teams from smaller nations, who would usually not make the group stage of the European competition, a greater chance. 

It means at least 34 countries will be represented in the group stages of the UEFA club competitions. 

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: “There will be more matches for more clubs, with more associations represented in the group stages. There was a widespread demand by all clubs to increase their chances of participating more regularly in European competition.”

Does this mean more teams qualify for Europe?

No, the access list has been made flexible to accommodate the teams from the smaller nations who play in this competition, and fewer clubs will go through Europe League Qualifying. 

How many teams will qualify from the group stage?

The top two teams in each of the eight groups will advance to the knockout stage.

How will the knockout rounds work?

Group winners will automatically go through to the round of 16. But there will be a preliminary knockout round (or a round of 32 as we now know it) where group runners-up will play two-legged ties against third-placed teams from the Europa League groups to reach the round of 16. The competition then adopts a traditional knockout format.

When will the games be played?

Group-stage fixtures will be on a Thursday, played at 4.30 p.m., 6.45 p.m. or 9 p.m. CET.

Do the winners qualify for the Europa League?

Yes, just as the Europa League winners qualify for the Champions League, the Europa Conference League winners will automatically be entered into the following season’s Europa League.

What do teams think of this?

All the teams from the leagues that are ranked below 15th in the UEFA coefficient (based on five-year performance in Europe) are now out of the Europa League. 

Teams from Cyprus, Switzerland, and Greece just miss out and will have no route into the Europa League (other than dropping into it from Champions League qualifying).

However, this competition has got a light reception from the leagues that regularly have teams who reach the Europa League group stage, who now feel that they are being stopped from competing even at the second level of European football. 

“A more acceptable system may have been increased “trickle-down” from Europa League qualifying into the UEFA conference League, so as not to shut off that route for so many teams.  

Will the Europa League change?

There is a qualification process that implies that only two rounds will be played. Nine teams entered in the qualifying rounds, from the mid-ranked association, with the remaining 16 places made up to Champions League losers. 

Who has automatically qualified and when they enter:

Third qualifying round

St Johnstone, Jablonec, Anorthosis Famagusta

Playoff round

Antwerp, Zorya Luhansk, AZ Alkmaar, Fenerbahce, Sturm Graz, Randers

Twelve teams will automatically start in the group stage, all from the top six leagues (plus the Europa Conference League titleholders from the 2022-23 season).

Twelve teams will automatically become part of the group stage, all from the top six leagues (plus the Europa Conference League titleholder from the 2022-23 season)

Teams entering the group stage

Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Leicester City, West Ham United, Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen, Napoli, Lazio, Lyon, Marseille, Braga, Lokomotiv Moscow

After qualifying the group stage, a preliminary knockout would be conducted. (again, this is the round of 32). The runners-up will play third-placed teams from the Champions League for a place in the round of 16. 

As with the Europa Conference League, the Europa League group winner will skip around compared to the current format, going straight to the round of 16.