Europa Conference League

The UEFA Europa Conference League (abbreviated as UECL), colloquially referred to as UEFA Conference League, is an annual football club competition held by UEFA for eligible European football clubs.

Clubs qualify for the competition based on their performance in their national leagues and cup competitions. It is the third tier of European club football, after the Champions League and the Europa League.

The competition has been launched from the 2021–22 season and serves as the bottom level of the existing UEFA Europa League competition, which has been reduced from 48 teams to 32 teams in the group stage.

The competition is primarily be contested by teams from lower-ranked UEFA member associations. No teams qualify directly to the group stage.

10 teams that are eliminated in the Europa League playoffs gain automatic qualification and the rest coming from the Europa Conference League qualifiers.

The winners of the competition are awarded a position in the Europa League the following season unless they qualify for the UEFA Champions League.


UEFA had reportedly considered adding a third-tier competition since 2015, believing that a bottom-level tournament could act as a means of giving clubs from lower-ranked UEFA member nations a chance of progressing beyond the stages they usually are eliminated from in the Champions League and Europa League.

In mid-2018 talks of an announcement intensified, with news sources claiming an agreement had already been reached for the competition to be launched and that the 48-team Europa League group stage would be split into two, with the lower half forming the nucleus of what would be the new event.

On 2nd December 2018, the UEFA announced that the competition – provisionally known as “Europa League 2” or just “UEL2” – was to be launched as part of the 2021–24 three-year competition cycle, with UEFA adding that the new tournament would bring “more matches for more clubs and more associations”.

The official name of the competition – UEFA Europa Conference League – was announced on 24th September 2019.



Similar to the UEFA Champions League, qualification to the Europa Conference League will be split into two paths – the Champions path and the League path.

Unlike the Champions League, however, the Champions path will only be contested by teams that lost the qualification for the UEFA Champions League group stage and consequently, have been relegated directly into the UEFA Europa Conference League.

The association ranking based on the UEFA country coefficients is used to determine the number of participating teams in the league path for each association:

  • Nations ranked 1 to 5 will have one team;
  • Nations ranked 6 to 15 will have two teams;
  • Nations ranked 16 to 50 will have three teams;
  • Nations ranked 51 to 55 will have two teams;
  • Liechtenstein does not have a domestic league and will provide the winner of the Liechtenstein Football Cup irrespective of their coefficient ranking.

Based on this reorganisation, no association benefits from more berths to continental football than they had before the 2021–24 competition cycle, with the tournament essentially being the lower orders of the existing Europa League tournament but split off into a secondary tournament.

Group stage and knockout phase

The format will see 8 groups of 4 teams, followed by the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.

An additional preliminary knockout round will be played before the round of 16 between teams ranked second in their groups and the third-ranked teams of the UEFA Europa League groups. The new competition will feature 141 matches over 15 match weeks.

The winner of the new competition will be entitled to participate in the UEFA Europa League in the following season. The new competition matches will be played on Thursdays.

Distribution (from 2021–22 to 2023–24)

All qualification berths are based on UEFA’s default assumption that each association will submit one domestic cup winner as its highest-ranked qualifier after those eligible to enter the Champions League, and will define its remaining entrants by their league position in the previous year.

England allocates its lowest-ranked qualification place to the winners of the EFL Cup.