Europa Conference League Stadiums & Stats

Europa Conference League
Brgesto, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

UEFA never tires of trying to re-invent itself, constantly coming up with new tournaments or new formats for the old ones. So it is that the Europa Conference League came into existence ahead of the 2021-2022 season, offering clubs another route to playing European football. As the name suggests, it is the lesser cousin of both the Champions League and the Europa League, making it the third tier competition.

The idea behind its origin was to give more clubs a taste of European football, especially those sides from countries that traditionally struggle to make it in to the Champions League and the Europa League. One might well wonder why English sides were therefore able to qualify for it, especially considering the first side that did so was Tottenham Hotspur, who narrowly beat out Arsenal for the place.

Europa Conference League Stadiums

Stadium Year Opened Capacity Ave Attendance Record Attendance Record Attendance Match
AFAS Stadion
AZ Alkmaar
2006 17,023 15,074 17,023 AZ Alkmaar v Arsenal 2006
Baku National Stadium
Azerbaijan / Qarabag
2015 69,870 38,000 55,000 Azerbaijan v Norway (2016)
De Kuip
Feyenoord
1937 51,177 47,500 65,427 Feyenoord v Twente (1968)
Ghelamco Arena
KAA Gent
2013 20,000 19,785 20,000 Gent v KV Mechelen (2013)
Parken Stadium
FC Copenhagen / Denmark
1992 38,065 14,523 42,083 Denmark v Sweden (2007)
Sinobo Stadium
Slavia Prague
2008 21,000 13,511 19,370 Slavia Prague v Sparta Prague (14/04/2019)
St Jakob-Park
FC Basel 1893
2001 38,512 29,001 39,730 Switzerland v Czech Republic (2008)
Stadio Olimpico
AS Roma / SS Lazio
1937 70,634 21,274 100,000 Italy v Hungary (1953)
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur
2019 62,850 57,342 61,104 Tottenham v Chelsea (2019)
Arena Kombëtare
2022 Final Venue
2019 22,500 21,000 61,104 Albania and France (2019)

Final

FixtureDate & TimeStadium
?v?Wed 25th MayArena Kombëtare

Tournament Format

Overall Structure

RoundNew Teams EnteringTeams from Previous RoundTeams TotalNo Fixtures
First Qualifying Round 72 - 72 36
Second Qualifying Round (C) 20 - 20 10
Second Qualifying Round (NC) 54 36 90 45
Third Qualifying Round (C) - 10 10 5
Third Qualifying Round (NC) 7 45 52 26
Play-Off (C) 5 5 10 5
Play-Off (NC) 8 26 34 17
Group Stage 10 22 32 96
Last 16 (Preliminary) 8 (3rd Place EL Group) 8 (Group Runners-Up) 16 8
Last 16 - 16 16 8
Quarter Finals - 8 8 4
Semi Finals - 4 4 2
Final - 2 2 1

KEY: C = Champions Path, NC = Non-Champions Path, EL - Europa League

Qualification

Europa Conference League
UEFA, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In order to qualify for the Europa Conference League, clubs need to either do well in their domestic league or else one of the domestic cups. As is often the case, UEFA have worked hard to making qualification as convoluted as possible, offering ‘two paths’ for qualification: the Champions Path and the League Path. The Champions Path is a slightly misleading title, given it’s for teams that lose their Champions League group stage qualification match who drop down into it.

The number of teams from each league is decided upon according to the UEFA country coefficients. Countries that are a ranked between 1 and 5 will have one team, those between 6 and 15 will have two teams and those ranked 16 to 50 will get three teams. Randomly, those ranked from 51 to 55 will drop down to having two teams. Liechtenstein don’t have a domestic league, so the winner of the Liechtenstein Football Cup gains qualification, regardless of their coefficient ranking.

One of the key things about the introduction of the Europa Conference League is that other leagues were reorganised in order to ensure that no country would get more berths than they had before its invention. Instead, the Conference League simply took the place of the lower qualification berths of the Europa League, but instead entered this secondary tournament rather than the Europa League itself.

Ahead of the debut season, the competition saw 72 teams make it to the first qualifying round, 110 in the second qualifying round and 62 in the third qualifying round (see earlier table). There were then 44 teams that made the play-off round, which was split into one section for Champions and another for Non-champions. The Group Stage was then made up of 5 winners from the Champions play-offs, 17 from the Non-champions play-offs and ten sides eliminated from the Europa League play-off round.

Group Stages

football tournament group stagesThe format of the Europa Conference League will see 32 teams making it into the group stage of the competition. As a result, they will be split up into eight groups, each of which will contain four teams. Those teams will face each other once at home and once away, just as in the group stage of both the Champions League and the Europa League, with the teams then organised according to the points earned.

Three points will be given for a win, one point awarded for a draw and no points given to the losing team in a match when there is a winner. Each group is then placed in an order at the end of the group stage, initially according to points one and, if they can’t be separated, the likes of goal difference, goals scored and head-to-head results, just as with the other two major European competitions.

Knockout Rounds

tournament structureYou might think that once the competition had progressed to the knockout rounds things would be relatively simple, but that is not the case. The Europa Conference League introduces a Preliminary Knockout Round, which sees the eight runners-up from each group joined by the eight third-placed teams from the Europa League group stage, meaning that eight of those teams move into the knockout round proper.

The first knockout round proper is the round of 16, which is made up of the eight group winners and the eight winners of the Preliminary Knockout Round, who face each other across two legs. One leg is played at each of the team’s home stadium, or a stadium representing their home if the ground in question is not up to EUFA’s exacting standards. After the round of 16 comes the quarter-finals and then the semi-finals.

After all of that, the two best teams in the competition will advance to the final. The competition will see 141 matches played across 15 match weeks, with 181 teams in total taking part. The winner will gain a place in the Europa League for the following season, unless they should happen to qualify for the Champions League via their own domestic league performance.

Previous Winners

Host CityYearWinnerStadium
Tirana 2022 ? Arena Kombëtare

British Club Performance

ClubCupsRunners Up
Tottenham 0 0

Europa Conference League Stats

Tournament Stats
First Year2021-22
Titles (Nation)N/A
Titles (City)N/A
Highest AttendanceN/A
Prize Money Winner€8.9 million (2022)
Group Stage Base Fee€3 million (2022)
Qualifying Teams181
Final Teams40 (32 Group + 8 From CL)
Club Stats
TitlesN/A
Runner UpN/A
Consecutive Appearances N/A
Undefeated championsN/A
Consecutive WinsN/A
Biggest Win One Game N/A
Biggest Aggregate Win N/A
Player Stats
Highest Scorer N/A
Most Goals In A Season N/A
Appearance Record N/A

About the Europa Conference League

In The Beginnings

Reports suggest that UEFA had toyed with adding a third-tier European competition to their roster since 2015. The logic behind such a move was that it would give clubs that ply their trade in countries with a lower coefficient ranking a chance to play European football. Given that they typically tend to be eliminated from the Champions League and the Europa League at the early stages, it would also provide an opportunity to progress to a competition’s latter stages.

In the middle of 2018, talk about launching such a competition intensified. Some sources claimed that an agreement had already been reached for the launching of such a tournament, with the Europa League split into two in order to accommodate it. On the 2nd of December 2018, UEFA confirmed the competition’s existence, giving it the provisional name of the Europa League 2. The idea was that it would be launched as part of a three-year competition cycle.

The 24th of September 2019 saw the competition given its official title of the UEFA Europa Conference League, with the organisation saying that it would bring ‘more matches for more clubs and more associations’. The competition’s trophy and branding was officially announced on the 24th of May 2021.

The Trophy

Those with only a passing intertest in football would be forgiven for confusing the Europa Conference League trophy and the Europa League trophy, given that they bear a slight resemblance to one another. Standing at 57.5cm tall and weighing 11kg, the trophy is made up of 32 hexagonal spines, which are supposed to represent each of the teams that make it the competition’s group stage.

Presumably the designed shrugged to incorporate the other eight teams that join the competition before the knockout stage proper gets underway. UEFA’s nonsense corporate speak suggests that the curved nature of the spines were ‘inspired by the fight of a football heading towards a goal. The base and the top, meanwhile, are made of hand-brushed brass compared to the silver finish of the spines.