A new third tier in Europe should benefit League of Ireland clubs

A new third tier in Europe should benefit League of Ireland clubs

Cork City found the going tough against Rosenborg this season. Picture: Jon Olav Nesvold/Sportsfile

LEAGUE of Ireland clubs could be the beneficiaries of a new European club competition, which will kick in from 2021.

The tournament, which has provisionally titled UEL2, will be placed under the Champions League and Europa League. 

The 32-team tournament will commence in 2021, which will have group stages of eight groups of four. The winner of the new tournament will then earn a place in the Europa League.

Games in this new competition will be played on Thursdays at 3.30pm, the same day as Europa League fixtures.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin announced the tournament was being brought in due to “significant demand” for participation at European level.

The European football governing body is adamant that clubs from nations such as Ireland will be winners and not losers from the proposed new tournament. In essence, the competition will act as a double safety net for league champions from some smaller nations, and provide them with a chance to be successful in Europe.

What it would mean is that the champions of Ireland are likely to benefit from increased opportunities, while Irish sides that currently qualify from the Europa League will now most probably find themselves in the qualifying rounds of the new UEL2 tournament.

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)."

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