Welsh domestic football clubs look set to be included in plans for a new European competition as part of Uefa’s restructuring of its continental competitions.
The European governing body announced over the weekend that it intends to create a third European club competition from 2021, and decrease the current size of the Europa League.
The new competition, dubbed as ‘UEL 2’, will sit a level below a streamlined 32-club version of the Europa League, which in future will only be accessible to clubs from the top-15 ranked nations.
Welsh clubs currently compete for three Europa League qualifying spots, but under the new proposals these clubs would instead enter the qualifying rounds of the new competition.
The Welsh Premier League champions would not be affected by the changes and would continue to qualify for the Champions League qualifying rounds.
The main format would see the winner from the eight groups of four teams advance, along with a play-off for the teams who finish second in the group and the sides who finish third in the groups of the current Europa League.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “The new Uefa club competition makes Uefa’s club competitions more inclusive than ever before.”
“There will be more matches for more clubs, with more associations represented in the group stages. This competition was borne out of ongoing dialogue with clubs through the European Club Association (ECA).
“There was a widespread demand by all clubs to increase their chances of participating more regularly in European competition. This has been achieved with a strategic approach and in accordance with Uefa’s objective of having both more quality and more inclusivity in our club competitions.”
“This competition was born out of ongoing dialogue with clubs through the European Club Association.”
HOW WELSH CLUBS CURRENTLY QUALIFY FOR EUROPE
There are a total of four European places available to Welsh clubs, each providing significant prize money which serves as an invaluable source of revenue for the qualifying clubs. Because of the scheduling of the qualifying rounds, these games take place as early as mid-July.
Welsh Premier League champions – Champions League qualifying rounds
Welsh Premier League runners-up – Europa League qualifying rounds
Welsh Cup winners – Europa League qualifying rounds
Welsh Premier League Play-Off winners – Europa League qualifying rounds