The UEFA Europa Conference League is beginning its inaugural season with many football fans wondering exactly what this new competition actually entails. Here is your definitive guide to UEFA’s newest, pan-European tournament and how it stands up against the Champions League and the Europa League.
What is the Europa Conference League?
Not since the cancellation of the European Cup Winners’ Cup at the close of the last century has European club competition had a tripartite tier system in place.
The Europa Conference League is UEFA’s new third tier tournament after the Champions League and Europa League. It is specifically designed to grant greater access to competitive football for more inexperienced sides who hitherto would not have had the opportunity to qualify for UEFA’s other two remaining tournaments.
How does it work and when will the games be played?
The Europa Conference League works much in the same manner as the Europa League and the Champions League. First there are three round qualifying rounds before the official group stages begin sometime in September, although the finalised date is still to be determined as is the case with UEFA’s other two tournaments.
No single team qualifies directly for the group stage. 17 teams will enter through the main qualifying rounds, supplemented by a further ten teams dropping out of the Europa League and Champions League systems.
Who can participate in the Europa Conference?
A total of 184 club teams will participate in the new tournament across the course of the season. Seeking to be all inclusive, It sees at least one participant from all of the 55 national associations and members of UEFA.
22 teams from Europa League Conference Qualifying stage will enter into the group stage which is still underway. A further ten losing teams from the Europa League and Champions League will automatically be entered into the tournament also.
Who are the favourites to win the Europa Conference League?
As the final participants still have to qualify for the group stage many bookmakers have yet to publish outright odds for the winner until the precise list of clubs have been decided. However, there is a definitive UK betting sites list of bookmakers offering odds on every match during the qualifying rounds.
Some of the big hitters who are currently in the mix to go into the main competition and who are expected to compete for the trophy include: Tottenham Hotspur (England), Roma (Italy), Rennes (France) and Feyenoord (Netherlands).
Other teams of note are: Anderlecht (Belgium), Aberdeen (Scotland), FC Copenhagen (Denmark), LASK (Austria), Partizan Belgrade (Serbia) and many more.
There are also a number of teams who will enter the competition from the Europa League and Champions League who are yet to be determined.
When and where will the Europa Conference League Final be held?
The final is currently scheduled to take place on Wednesday 25 May 2022. It will be held in Albania’s capital Tirana representing the first time the country has hosted a major European football final.
The 21,000 capacity stadium the Arena Kombëtare, the country’s national stadium will host the final.
Why should I care about it?
Not only does it represent a great opportunity to watch even more midweek football, you could very well see your team compete in the tournament. The Europa Conference League has been brought in by UEFA so more countries and a greater number of clubs and supporters alike can get the chance to participate in European competition.
The hope is that, much like the international team tournament UEFA Nations League, the Europa Conference League can foster greater financial and competitive opportunities for teams placed lower in major leagues and from countries outside the core that qualify for the Champions League and Europa League.
It provides a great opportunity geared towards promoting greater financial equality with an extra pyramid added to the pan-European football systems, for fans to follow their team through Europe, and a chance to see the next great unknowns compete on a more accessible stage.
Follow betting tips for every stage of the UEFA Conference League to stay ahead of the game this season.