Europa League Stadiums & Stats

europa league

The Europa League is, to all intents and purposes, Europe’s second-string competition after the Champions League. It has a storied history, though, with the basis for the competition found in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup that was formed in 1955. The idea was to form a tournament for European cities that held trade fairs on a regular basis, hence its name.

We’ll tell you more about the competition’s history as we go on, including how it went from the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup to the UEFA Cup before eventually becoming the Europa League that we know and watch today. We’ll also tell you about the format of the competition, from qualifying right the way through to the final, and we’ll also let you know about other things such as club statistics, stadium details and more.

Europa League Stadiums

Stadium Year Opened Capacity Ave Attendance Record Attendance Record Attendance Match
Baku National Stadium
Azerbaijan / Qarabag
2015 69,870 38,000 55,000 Azerbaijan v Norway (2016)
Constant Vanden Stock
R.S.C. Anderlecht
1917 28,063 17,528 38,349 Anderlecht v Standard de Liège (1980)
Estadio El Madrigal
Villarreal
1923 24,890 16,040 24,450 Villarreal v Barcelona (2016)
Estadio Jose Alvalade
Sporting CP
2003 50,095 39,988 49,699 Sporting CP v Benfica (2016)
San Siro
AC Milan & Inter Milan
1926 80,018 48,358 83,381 Inter Milan v Schalke (1997)
Stade Velodrome
Olympique de Marseille
1937 67,394 47,057 65,252 Marseille v PSG (2017)
Stadio Olimpico
AS Roma / SS Lazio
1937 70,634 21,274 100,000 Italy v Hungary (1953)
Stamford Bridge
Chelsea FC
1877 41,798 41,450 82,905 Cheslea v Arsenal (1935)
The Emirates
Arsenal FC
2006 60,260 60,031 60,161 Arsenal v Man United (2007)

Final

Fixture  Date & TimeStadium
? v ? Weds 29th May Baku Olympic Stadium

Tournament Format

Qualification

Qualification for the Europa League is a complicated affair. For example, up to 214 teams from 54 of UEFA’s 55 member associations were expected to take part in the 2018-2019 version of the competition, with the amount of teams participating from each relevant association based on the coefficients awarded to the country by UEFA.

With the exception of Liechtenstein, each association from 1-51 is awarded three qualification places, numbers 52-54 get two places and the 55th placed assoiation gets one place. It is then up to the country’s own Football Association to decide how the qualifying places are awarded. In England, for example, the winners of the FA Cup are given a Europa League spot as long as they don’t finish in the Champions League or Europa League spots in the Premier League.

That is how teams qualify for the Europa League directly, but there is another way that a team could end up playing in the competition. 33 teams end up dropping out of the Champions League at both the qualification phase and after the group stages, joining the ranks of the Europa League instead.

The qualification rounds whittle the teams down to a suitable amount, with 94 teams taking place in the first qualifying round. Following the first round the competition splits into two streams, the 'champions path' which predictably is made up of the losers of the various Champions League qualification rounds, and the 'main path' which comprises everyone else (cup winners, and non-league champions).

The second round has 74 teams in the main path and 19 in the champions path. round three has 52 main path and 20 champions path and finally the play off is made up of 16 champions path and 26 main path. Eventually 8 teams qualify from the champions path for the group stages proper and 13 from the main path. We told you it was complicated…

RoundNew Teams EnteringTeams from Previous RoundTeams TotalNo Fixtures
Preliminary 14 - 104 7
First 87 7 94 47
Second (CP) 20 - 20 10
Second (MP) 27 47 74 37
Third (CP) 10 10 20 10
Third (MP) 15 37 52 26
Play Off (CP) 6 10 16 8
Play Off (MP) 0 26 26 13
Group Stage 27 21 48 144
Last 32 8 (3rd Place CL Group) 24 32 16
Last 16 - 16 16 8
Quarter Finals - 8 8 4
Semi Finals - 4 4 2
Final - 2 2 1

KEY: CP = Champions Path, MP = Main Path

The Group Stages

48 teams take part in the group stages, with the 21 winners from the play-off round (8 from the CP and 13 from the MP) joined by ten losing teams from the Champions League play-off round, twelve domestic cup winners from the first to twelfth associations, one fourth-placed team from the fifth association’s domestic league and four fifth-placed teams from the first to the fourth associations according to UEFA’s coefficient rankings.

Those 48 teams are split into twelve groups of four. As with the Champions League, there is a restriction on teams from the same country playing in a group with each other. Instead teams are placed into seeded pots. The teams play against each other in a standard, round-robin format, with matches played at home and away. The winners of each group as well as the runners-up make it through to the knockout phase of the competition.

The Knockout Stages & The Final

24 teams advance from the group stage through to the knockout phase of the competition, where they are joined by eight teams from the Champions League. The teams play each other once at home and once away in each of the rounds apart from the final, which is a one-legged affair that is played at a neutral venue.

The teams are seeded for the first knockout round, with seeded teams drawn to play unseeded teams and teams from the same country unable to play against each other. When sixteen teams remain in the competition seeding no longer takes place, with any team able to be drawn against any other. The teams are drawn from a pot completely at random, with the first team drawn playing the first leg at home and the second leg away from home.

The sixteen teams play each other, with eight teams making it through to the quarter-final stage. They then play each other home and away in order to determine which four teams will make it through to the semi-final. The remaining two teams qualify for the final of the competition, which must be decided on the night. If necessary the teams will play extra-time and have a penalty shoot-out in order to determine the competition’s winner. The winner of the Europa League is rewarded not only with the trophy but also with a place in the Champions League group stages for the next season.

Previous Winners

The table below shows UEFA Cup / Europa League winners since 1998 when the final switched from two legged to a single game.

Host CityYearWinnerStadium
Baku 2019 ? Baku Olympic Stadium
Lyon 2018 Atletico Madrid Stade des Lumieres
Solna 2017 Man Uinted Friends Arena
Basel 2016 Sevilla St Jakob park
Warsaw 2015 Sevilla National Stadium
Turin 2014 Sevilla Juventus Stadium
Amsterdam 2013 Chelsea Amsterdam Arena
Bucharest 2012 Atletico Madrid Arena Nationala
Dublin 2011 Porto Dublin Arena
Hamburg 2010 Atletico Madrid Hamburg Arena
Istanbul 2009 Shakhtar Donetsk Sukru Saracoglu Stadium
Manchester 2008 Zenit Saint Petersburg City of Manchester Stadium
Glasgow 2007 Sevilla Hampden park
Eindhoven 2006 Sevilla Philips Stadion
Lisbon 2005 CSKA Moscow Estadio Jose Alvalade
Gothenburg 2004 Valencia Nya Ullevi
Seville 2003 Porto Estadio Olimpicp de Sevilla
Rotterdam 2002 Feyenoord De Kuip
Dortmund 2001 Liverpool Westfalenstadion
Copenhagen 2000 Galatasaray Parken Stadium
Moscow 1999 Parma Luzhniki Stadium
Paris 1998 Inter Milan Parc des Princes

The table below shows all time winners that have won two or more trophies since the UEFA cup was founded in 1971

TeamTitlesYears WonYears Runner Up
Sevilla 5 2006-07, 2014-16 -
Juventus 3 1977, 1990, 1993 1995
Inter Milan 3 1991, 1994, 1998 1997
Liverpool 3 1973, 1976, 2001 2016
Atl Madrid 3 2010, 2012, 2018 -
B M'bach 2 1975, 1979 1973, 1980
Tottenham 2 1972, 1984 1974
Feyenord 2 1974, 2002 -
Göteborg 2 1982, 1987 -
Real Madrid 2 1985, 1986 -
Parma 2 1995, 1999 -
Porto 2 2003, 2011 -

British Club Performance

ClubCupsRunners Up
Liverpool 3 1
Tottenham 2 1
Ipswich Town 1 0
Chelsea 1 0
Man United 1 0
Wolves 0 1
Dundee Utd 0 1
Arsenal 0 1
Celtic 0 1
Middlesbrough 0 1
Rangers 0 1
Fulham 0 1

Europa League Stats

Tournament Stats
First Year1955 as Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, 1971-1972 as UEFA Cup, 2009-2010 as Europa League
Titles (Nation)Spain (11)
Titles (City)Madrid (5)
Highest Attendance110,000 (Santiago Bernabeu 1973)
Prize Money Winner€6.5 million (2018)
Group Stage Base Fee€2.6 million (2018)
Qualifing Teams189
Final Teams48
Club Stats
TitlesSevilla (5)
Runner UpBorussia Monchengladbach (2)
Consecutive Appearances Club Brugge (20 seasons)
Undefeated champions6 (Tottenham Hotspur, Borussia Munchengladbach, IFK Goteborg x 2, Ajax, Galatasaray, Feyenoord)
Consecutive WinsAtletico Madrid (16)
Biggest Win One Game Ajax 14 - Red Boys Differdange 0 (1984-1985)
Biggest Aggregate Win Feyenoord 21 - Rumelange 0 (1972-1973)
Player Stats
Highest Scorer Henrik Larsson (40)
Most Goals In A Season Radamel Falcao (17)
Appearance Record Giuseppe Bergomi - (96)

About the Europa League

In The Beginnings

Ernst Thommen, from Switzerland, joined forces with Italy’s Ottorino Barrasi and England’s Sir Stanley Rous in order to create a tournament for sides from European cities that that held trade fairs on a regular basis. The tournament was called the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and began on the 18th of April 1955. It involved teams from Barcelona, Birmingham, Basel, Copenhagen, Lausanne, Frankfurt, London, Leipzig, Milan and Zagreb.

The original tournament lasted for an incredible eight years, with matches tending to be scheduled to coincide with trade fairs. The first ever final was won by FC Barcelona, beating a team representing London by an aggregate score of 8-2. For the second version of the tournament the organisers decided to go back to using real club’s rather than players representing cities. The only rule was that the clubs had to come from cities staging trade fairs.

The UEFA Cup

The 1971-1972 was the first one to be played under the new name of the UEFA Cup. The first final was an all-English affair, with Tottenham Hotspur beating Wolverhampton Wanderers. The name change came about because the competition was now organised by UEFA and no longer had to feature clubs from trade fair cities. For the majority of the 1970s the cup was won by teams from Northern Europe, with only Juventus winning it from the South in 1977.

Italian clubs did gain the upper hand during the 1990s, with Napoli’s win in 1989 beginning a succession of victories for teams from Italy. Over the following eleven seasons the UEFA Cup was won by a team from Italy on eight occasions. Inter Milan won it on three of those occasions, only having their domination interrupted by Galatasaray who became the first Turkish club to win it in 2000.

Other than in 1964 and 1965 the final of the UEFA Cup/Inter-Cities Fairs Cup had always been a two-legged affair. This changed in 1998 when Inter Milan beat Lazio 3-0 at the Parc des Princes in the first one-legged final of the competition. The format changed further in the 1999-2000 season when domestic cup winners were also able to qualify for the competition after the disbandment of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. This was also when teams dropped into the competition from Champions League for the first time.

From 1993 until 2004 the ‘Golden Goal’ could be used in any competition that the organisers saw fit to use it in. In the 2001 final between Liverpool and Deportivo Alaves, played at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund, the Merseyside club became the first to win the competition through the Golden Goal rule. The rule stated that if a goal was scored during extra time then the match would end immediately, with the team scoring the goal winning the competition. Liverpool won it when Delfi Geli scored an own goal.

The Europa League

The competition became the Europa League ahead of the 2009-2010 season. The group stages of the tournament were expanded to allow 48 teams to take part, with each team playing six matches in the round-robin format that was also being used in the Champions League. Atletico Madrid lay down a marker for the newly branded tournament, winning two out of the first three titles.

The competition had its ranks swelled that season, too, with Europe’s third-tier competition, the Intertoto Cup, disbanded in order to merge it with the newly formed Europa League. The whole thing was done largely in an attempt to increase the profile of Europe’s second-string cup competition, with most people believing it was a poor relation to the more glamorous Champions League.

The first year under the new brand name was also the first year that the competition featured additional officials behind the goals. It was a change to the competition’s rules that meant a total of six officials would help to officiate the match. The main referee is helped by two assistant referees who run the line, a fourth official on the sideline and the two assistants who stand behind each goal and can alert the referee to anything he should be made aware of.

The Trophy

The trophy awarded to the winner of the Europa League is known as either the UEFA Cup, the Coupe UEFA or, more correctly, the Bertoni Trophy. It weighs 15kg and is made of silver, with a yellow marble plinth. It gets its official name from the fact that it was both designed and crafted in the Bertoni workshops of Milan ahead of the final in 1972.

The design of the trophy is unique for a major European trophy in that it has no handles, with the real joy of the trophy lying in the simplicity of its look. Above the plinth is a group of players who appear to be jostling for the ball. In actual fact they are supporting the octagonal cup that stands above them, with the cup itself emblazoned with the UEFA emblem.

Before the rebranding of the competition in 2009 the winners were entitled to keep the original trophy for a year. After that they had to return it to UEFA and they could place a replica of it that was four-fifths the size in their trophy cabinet permanently. Any club that won the competition for three consecutive seasons or five times in total could ‘keep’ the trophy forever.

When the UEFA Cup became the Europa League, UEFA decided to alter the rules so that the trophy remains in their possession at all times. A full-scale replica is now awarded to the competition’s winner. Now any team that wins the trophy three times in a row or five times in total receives a ‘special mark of recognition’, rather than the right to keep the trophy permanently.

The Anthem

UEFA love a bit of theme music. The Champions League theme is known around the world and is enough to get anyone excited about what they’re about to watch. The Europa League doesn’t quite have the same level of enjoyment, though if you say as much then UEFA will probably fine you.

The original anthem was composed by Yohann Zveig, with the Paris Opera recording it in early 2009. It was unveiled officially at the Grimaldi Forum on August the 28th 2009 before the draw for the group stage of that season’s competition. A new anthem was launched for the 2015-2016 season and composed by Michael Kadelbach. It has to be played before every game in the competition and also during the opening sequence of any televised broadcast of one of the matches.