Friday, 26 September 2008

UEFA Cup given new name in revamp

The UEFA Cup is to be renamed the UEFA Europa League from the 2009-10 season, with the competition set to be extended.

UEFA Europa LeagueThe new-look league format will have 48 clubs in 12 groups of four, with teams playing each other home and away as opposed to just once as it stands now.

The top two in each group then join the eight third-placed UEFA Champions League clubs in a 32-club knock-out stage.

The competition will also have its TV rights and sponsorship sold centrally, in the same way as the lucrative Champions League.

This switch should increase income to clubs.

"I am convinced the new format will give the UEFA Europa League a successful new impetus," said UEFA President Michel Platini.

"These changes will improve this historic competition, which is very important for UEFA and for European football as it gives more fans, players and clubs the thrill of European club football."

A statement on the UEFA website adds: "The new name and logo will help underline the tournament's special character and unique sporting appeal.

"UEFA's ambition in making these changes is to rejuvenate the competition in the light of the new European football landscape, which has shifted significantly with the continued success of the Champions League, so that the UEFA Europa League can establish itself as a major competition."

The decision to increase the number of clubs in the tournament was first taken by the UEFA Executive Committee in Switzerland back in December 2007 when they decided that the summer Intertoto Cup tournament, which led to UEFA Cup spots, was going to be scrapped from 2009.

All clubs will have to qualify for the Europa League through the qualifying rounds as only the title-holders will qualify directly for the group stage.

The matches will be played on a Thursday night – or on a Wednesday night during exclusive UEFA Cup weeks – with two kick-off times, in principle at 1805 UK Time (+1hr for Italy/CET) and 2005, with the final taking place on a Wednesday at 1945.

Source: UEFA

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