By News Team
Last Updated: 15th September 2021
With UEFA introducing a third-tier European football competition this season, we’ve taken a look at all you need to know about it – from the qualifying rounds structure, to who’s involved this year.
What is the Europa Conference League?
The Europa Conference League is another football competition that will run alongside the Champions League and Europa League, but will be the third-tier of European competition. The Conference League brings together 32 clubs in the group stages of the competition, with 12 champions set to feature in the tournament.
How will the Europa Conference League work?
In terms of qualifying, it’s the teams who would have entered the Europa League at the preliminary round and first and second qualifying rounds that take part. Only five clubs will come from the top leagues, all of who will enter in the final qualifying round. The qualifying rounds have now been played, with losers from the Champions League and Europa League filtering down into this competition too.
There will now be eight groups of four teams. Each team will play the other group members twice and the eight group winners will automatically qualify for the last 16. The eight teams that finish in second place will then play the eight teams that finished in third place in the Europa League groups, within the Europa Conference League knockout round play-offs.
This will be a two-legged tie contest, during which they will play each other twice – once home and once away. The eight winners of such, progress to the last 16 of the Europa Conference League to join the group winners, where the traditional knockout format is then adopted.
In total, there will be 141 matches over the 15 match weeks before the winners of the Europa Conference League are crowned, and then go on to earn a place in next season’s Europa League group stage, if they have not qualified for the Champions League through their league position.
Who is in the Europa Conference League?
The eight groups in the Europa Conference League are as follows:
Group A: LASK, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Alashkert, HJK Helsinki
Group B: Gent, Partizan, Flora, Anorthosis
Group C: Roma, Zorya Luhansk, CSKA-Sofia, Bodø/Glimt
Group D: AZ Alkmaar, CFR Cluj, Jablonec, Randers
Group E: Slavia Praha, Feyenoord, Union Berlin, Maccabi Haifa
Group F: Copenhagen, PAOK, Slovan Bratislava, Lincoln Red Imps
Group G: Spurs, Rennes, Vitesse, Mura
Group H: Basel, Qarabağ, Kairat Almaty, Omonoia
When does the Europa Conference League begin?
The group games will be televised on Thursdays from this week with kick-offs at 5:45pm and 8pm UK time, playing on the same days as the Europa League games. The group stages will run from Thursday 16th September until Thursday 9th December 2021. The final will be held on Wednesday 25th May 2022, at the Arena Kombëtare in Tirana, Albania, which has a capacity for 22,500 fans.