How much is the Europa League worth

Europe's 3rd league is coming - the big ones benefit again

On Thursday (December 3rd, 2020) the UEFA Executive Committee will decide in a video conference where the first Europa Conference League final will take place at the end of the 2021/22 season. According to media reports, there are four places to choose from: Tirana in Albania, Heraklion in Greece, Skopje in North Macedonia and Saint-Etienne in France.

It is the first season for the Europa Conference League, the introduction of which was decided in 2018 under the working title "Europa League 2". The Bundesliga should also be represented by a team. However, the introduction of the new competition will have major consequences for other leagues.

The idea: more participants, more opportunities - with a catch

So far, 32 teams have participated in the group stage of the Champions League, 48 were in the Europa League - a total of 80. In future, 32 teams will play in all three tournaments, which means a total of 96.

Following the decision to launch the Europa Conference League, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said the competition would make European club football more inclusive for the smaller nations. "There will be more games for more clubs, with more national associations represented in the group stages"said Ceferin. More for everyone? That sounds good. But the catch comes one floor above the Europa Conference League.

The result: Europe League tilts in favor of the big leagues

Because the Europa League will be more exclusive instead of more inclusive. With the introduction of the Europa Conference League, UEFA has reduced the Europa League from 48 to 32 teams. Only the best six instead of the best twelve nations in the "five-year ranking" will have directly qualified teams in the group phase from 2021, eleven of the 32 starting places will then automatically belong to the big players. Countries like Ukraine, the Netherlands, Turkey, Austria or Belgium will only be represented with their cup winners in the qualification for the Europa League in 2021/22. "We are very concerned that we will be one of the biggest victims", says Stijn van Bever, spokesman for the Belgian league, in an interview with the sports show. "But the decisions have now been made that way."

Countries like Greece, Serbia, Croatia or Sweden, which could quickly spend a full season in the European third division in 2021/22, are hit even harder. Your cup winners are only allowed to play in the qualification for the Europa Conference League instead of in the Europa League as before. The champions of these countries also play in the first qualifying round for the Champions League and, if they lose, end up two floors lower in the Europa Conference League. The chances are getting smaller for the little ones - a familiar pattern.

The story: the 2018 Champions League rebuilt for the big players

By 2018, Spain, England, Germany and Italy had a total of eleven direct starting places in the group stage of the Champions League. Since 2018 there have been 16 - half of the 32 participants. UEFA took away the five new starting places for the big four from smaller nations. In 2018, UEFA also introduced a background payment model based on the performance of the clubs over the past ten years. Clubs like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona or Bayern Munich are currently automatically receiving more than 30 million euros for their old successes each season. In addition, there are victory bonuses, starting bonuses and media revenues. This creates three-digit million sums for the top clubs every year.