UEFA Europa Conference League explained

Starting the 2021/22 season, UEFA will introduce a third tier of continental competition dubbed the UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL).

The Conference League is an attempt by UEFA to make continental football more accessible to clubs of smaller nations who have struggled to reach the group stages of the Champions League and Europa League in recent years.

The matches will be played on Thursday nights just like the Europa League.

The group stage will feature 17 teams from the main qualification path, (teams who have qualified by virtue of their league finish but are not eligible for the UCL group stages and UEL group stages), 5 from the champions path (teams that were champions of their country but were not able to reach the group stage of the Europa or Champions Leagues), and finally 10 teams that fell at the final hurdle of Europa League qualification.

They will be be put in 8 groups of 4 much like the Champions League but the difference here and now in the Europa League is that only the group winners qualify for the round of 16. The runners up will play the 3rd placed teams from the competition above, in this case the Europa League, for a chance to enter the round of 16.

All knockout ties will be two legs as usual, until the final which will be a one-off game. The winner of the competition is also guaranteed a place in the group stage of the Europa League.

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