Does UEFA need to introduce another cup competition?
By Joe Harker
UEFA are planning to introduce a third cup competition to accompany the Champions League and Europa League. Scheduled to begin in 2021, the new competition was announced by European Club Association chair Andrea Agnelli. Although few details have been given on what the new competition will be or who will be competing in it, Agnelli insisted that "the current model needs modernising".
Some believe the new competition will be a replacement for the Cup Winners Cup, which was played between 1960 and 1999 and featured winners of domestic competitions in a knockout tournament.
The new competition would feature 32 clubs and reduce the size of the Europa League so that all three European club competitions had the same number of competitors.
All that is needed is approval from the UEFA Executive Committee, who are unlikely to turn down another source of revenue. The Independent reports that UEFA, a not for profit organisation, rake in billions every year and have cash reserves of €500 million. The organisation is supposed to redistribute the money it makes throughout football.
A new competition could give UEFA more opportunities to make the most of broadcasting rights on the internet. It is the next big growth market for football and UEFA will want to be at the front of the queue when more money comes pouring in.
The Daily Mail reports that UEFA has been accused of "cooking up" the new competition without enough consultation. The initial idea had been to have 64 teams in the Europa League, thus giving more clubs access to the financial boost of playing in the competition, but fears of lowering the overall quality of the cup meant a third competition was looked on more favourably.
Perhaps this third competition will be for clubs that would have made it to a 64 team Europa League but are judged to be not good enough without dragging its reputation down. Scandinavian and Eastern European clubs tend not to make it to the latter stages of European competitions but the new tournament could give more of them the chance to compete and progress.
Some have sounded warnings that this new competition will be bad for small leagues as their clubs could have less chance of qualifying for more financially lucrative competitions. Conversely, the clubs that suddenly have regular access to a European competition and whatever monetary boon that follows could disrupt smaller leagues as certain clubs get much richer and others cannot compete.