Third UEFA Competition unveiled for 2020/2021
Welsh sides could be part of a new third tier European competition, as UEFA have announced their desire to change the format of the current European competitions.
At the moment the Welsh Premier League winner qualifies for the early stages of the UEFA Champions League, whilst three sides represent the Welsh top flight in the preliminary rounds of the UEFA Europa League.
Clubs qualify for Europe from Wales by winning the Welsh Premier League, finishing as runner-up, winning the JD Welsh Cup and qualifying via the Europa League play-offs.
European Clubs Association executive Andrea Agnelli said during the ECA meeting today: “Pending approval of the Uefa executive committee, the ‘green light’ has been given to introduce a third competition.”
“This would bring the overall number of clubs in European competition to 96, as of the 2021/22 season.”
Currently, the UEFA Champions League has 32 teams and the UEFA Europa League has 48 teams in the group stage round.
Initial plans see the UEFA Europa League following suit of the top tier competition with 32 teams. No plans have yet been discussed about the format and the rules of the third tier competition.
This season, The New Saints reached the penultimate round of qualifying in Europe’s second tier competition, losing to Danish side FC Midjtylland 5-1 on aggregate.
It was preliminary round exits for Bala Town and the Cefn Druids, losing to Tre Fiori and FK Trakai respectively in the second tier competition, the UEFA Europa League.
The best a Welsh domestic side has ever fared in Europe was in 2010/11 when TNS reached the Third Qualifying Round of the UEFA Champions League, but were beaten 6-1 on aggregate against Anderlecht, before losing 5-2 against CSKA Sofia in the UEFA Europa League Qualifying Round.
The exact format of the new competition is yet to be outlined, however Welsh clubs will be hoping it will prove to be an avenue that will allow for greater scope for European success.
FEATURED IMAGE: Will Cheshire