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What is the UEFA Europa Conference League? When will it start? Which teams will play in it? How can I watch it?

BT Sport will show the first three seasons of UEFA’s new European club competition, the Europa Conference League, after securing the exclusive rights until 2024 alongside the Champions League and Europa League.

BT Sport will broadcast UEFA’s new European club competition, the Europa Conference League, when it begins in the 2021/22 season.

Having secured the exclusive rights for all three UEFA competitions until 2024, BT Sport remains the exclusive home of all top flight European club football.

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As well as retaining the Champions League and Europa League, BT Sport will also show UEFA’s third club competition meaning all 420 games will be broadcast live across the three-year deal.

As well as increasing the number of live games by 77 from the previous deal, highlights packages and in-match clips will continue.

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So ahead of the launch of UEFA Europa Conference League, we answer all your burning questions in this complete explainer article.

What is the Europa League Conference?

It’s UEFA’s third club competition and will run alongside the Champions League and Europa League.

When does it start?

The competition will begin in the 2021/22 season and run until at least the end of the 2023/24 campaign, meaning BT Sport will show the first three season as part of the latest rights deal.

Which teams will be involved?

No teams qualify directly into the group stage, instead the 32 clubs will be decided in the following ways:

  • Seventeen teams from the UEFA Europa Conference League main path.
  • Five teams from the UEFA Europa Conference League champions path.
  • Ten teams eliminated in the UEFA Europa League play-offs.

Does it affect the Champions League or Europa League?

It will have no impact on the Champions League, with the competition still being played on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Fixture time slots will move from the start of the 2021 season however, with early matches now kicking off at 5.45pm rather than the current 5.55pm. The later games will continue to get underway at 8pm however.

The Europa League and Europa Conference League will also be played at those kick-off times with both competitions running alongside each other on Thursday evenings.

The Europa League group stage will also be reduced from 48 to 32 teams, where they will be split into eight groups of four.

The eight group winners progress directly into the last 16, with the eight group runners-up facing the third ranked teams in the Champions League groups in a knockout round play-off.

The winners of those play-offs will qualify for the last 16 and face the eight teams that topped their respective Europa League groups.

What format does the competition take?

It will follow the same format as the new-look Europa League where there will be eight groups, with four teams in each.

The eight group winners progress directly into the last 16, with the eight group runners-up facing the third ranked teams in the Europa League groups in a knockout round play-off.

The winners of those play-offs will qualify for the last 16 and face the eight teams that topped their respective Europa Conference League groups.

This will be followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final with 141 matches being played across 15 match days.

What do the winners get?

The competition winner will be rewarded with a spot in the following season’s Europa League group stage.

Why has it been created?

Restructuring the UEFA competitions will ensure that at least 34 national associations are represented in one or more of the group stages.

The Champions League will have at least 14 domestic champions competing in the group stage, between eight and 11 in the Europa League and between nine and 12 in the Europa Conference League.

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