Tottenham and Roma start on their way to Tirana next season.
The two clubs that recently fired and hired Jose Mourinho are top of the list finalizing this week for the Europa League’s inaugural league, UEFA’s third competition, which begins in July.
The first winner will be crowned in May in the final of the new 22,500-seat national stadium in Albania.
This is not a glamorous or lucrative option for clubs that have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in the last three years. Tottenham went to the final in 2019.
“Yes, this is not the race we want to compete in next year,” Tottenham interim coach Ryan Mason said on Sunday. “But this is a European competition and we will respect it.”
The qualification was celebrated more enthusiastically on Saturday by Union Berlin, which will make its European debut in August.
The new competition is not designed to give priority to the seventh ranked teams in the richest European leagues.
The Europa League will ensure that some lower-ranked countries have clubs participating after August, after years of fighting for the Champions League and Europa League groups.
In 2018, Juventus president Andrea Anelli said as the then leader of the European Club Association that some members wanted the new competition “to allow them to grow and demonstrate their players ahead”.
That is all in Lithuania and Slovenia.
Since 2009, 32 teams have played in the group stage of the Champions League and 48 in the Europa League.
Now, by 2024, there will be 32 in each of the Champions League, Europe and the Europa League at the conference. All will play in round groups of four teams, passing in knockout rounds.
A total of 96 teams playing in the groups from September to December, instead of 80, does not mean more participation in local leagues. Each country maintains its total quota of teams, from seven for England, Spain, Germany and Italy to three for minutes.
A big change is that the teams from leagues ranked number 17 below do not have direct entry into the Europa League.
Teams from all lower-ranked countries are among more than 180 players in the Europa League this season.
All 55 UEFA member federations must be represented by only one of the top five leagues, which includes France.
However, when Tottenham, Roma, Union Berlin and Rennes start in the playoff round with two legs, Spain may be missing.
La Liga’s seventh team, Villarreal, could win a ticket to the next group in the Champions League, defeating Manchester United on Wednesday in the Europa League final. This will free up Spain’s place for the conference in Europe.
Similarly, the winner of the Europa League is offered an upgrade to the next Europa League.
WHO WILL PLAY?
Another oddity of the new system – some teams will play in all three races next season. Look for internal title winners who lost at the start of the Champions League qualifiers to move to Europe, then be eliminated again and land in the European Conference.
These national champions have their own qualifying path and avoid big league teams.
The main qualifying route for the Europe Conference is also for high-ranking teams from the middle-ranked leagues – Anderlecht, Vitesse Arnhem, Trabzonspor – plus internal cup winners, league runners-up and other high-ranking teams from the lower-ranked leagues.
No team has a direct entry into the group stage of the Europe Conference. Even Tottenham and Roma enter the playoff round, scheduled for August 19 and 26. You will see 22 winners qualify for the groups joined by 10 losers from the Europa League playoffs.
Only group winners in December will advance directly to the quarterfinals. They will be joined by eight winners from another new feature – the knockout playoff round in February.
These two-legged playoffs will include the eight runners-up of the Conference of Europe group and eight third-place teams from the European groups.
Then the last 16th category of the playoffs is a traditional trip to Tirana for the final on May 25th.
The winner of the Europa League League must play at least 15 matches in the competition, two more than the minimum required to win the Champions League.
Don’t expect top league teams to get rich trying.
UEFA has not yet announced a prize pool or guarantee fund for each team. Unofficially reported figures suggest almost € 3 million ($ 3.7 million) for entering the group stage and € 166,000 ($ 203,000) for a point earned.
It is estimated that the winner could win at least 20 million euros ($ 24 million) compared to 125 million euros (152 million dollars) Bayern Munich, the last winner of the Champions League, received by UEFA.
As its name suggests, the Europa League of Conferences is in fact a subsidiary of the Europa League. Broadcast offers and sponsors are included for the two competitions, which take place on Thursday.
The Europa League is worth around 550 million euros (670 million dollars) this season from the group stage onwards and promises an increase for the sales cycle 2021-24.
About 250 million euros ($ 300 million) are projected for the first league of the European Conference.