SPLIT – A third UEFA club competition is set to be introduced from the 2021-22 season, the head of the association representing Europe’s biggest clubs said on Tuesday.
European Club Association (ECA) chairman Andrea Agnelli told his members at a meeting in Split that the new event would bring the “overall number of clubs” involved in UEFA club competition to 96, the ECA said on Twitter.
“Pending approval of the UEFA executive committee, the ‘green light’ has been given to introduce a third competition, bringing the overall number of clubs to 96, as of the 2021-22 season,” Agnelli said.
The ECA later said in a statement that the “preferred option” was a third tier competition featuring 32 teams in the group stage.
The Champions League would continue to feature 32 teams in its group stage while the second tier Europa League would be reduced from a 48-team group stage to 32 teams.
“A determining factor in reaching this position was the need to enhance the overall value of the competitions,” said the statement. It added discussions would continue with UEFA and that a decision was likely by the end of the year.
Agnelli is also president of Juventus and sits on the UEFA executive committee, occupying one of two seats allocated to club representatives. UEFA were not immediately available for comment.
Europe used to have a third competition for winners of domestic cup competitions, known as the Cup Winners’ Cup, but it was abolished in 1999. Domestic cup winners now enter the Europa League.
Agnelli was due to hold a news conference following the meeting later on Tuesday.
The ECA has previously called for more clubs to be involved in European competitions and a “greater certainty of matches” for participating clubs.
Agnelli also repeated his call from last year for a drastic overhaul of the international match calendar, which is drawn up by global soccer body FIFA and allocates dates for national team games.
“A detailed assessment of the existing International Match Calendar is required prior to presenting a new model post-2024. The current model needs modernising,” he said.