Sports

European Leagues fume at UEFA's proposed third competition

European Leagues fume at UEFA's proposed third competition

Marseille are no longer at risk of being kicked out of European competition but will have to play their next Europa League game behind closed doors, UEFA said on Monday.

The format would also enable authorities to include more teams from smaller footballing nations, such as Scandinavia or Eastern Europe, without having to increase the Europa League - as initially proposed - to 64 teams.

The much-rumoured plan was confirmed earlier on Tuesday by European Club Association (ECA) president Andrea Agnelli at its general assembly in Split.

The ECA later said in a statement that the proposal was to reduce the number of teams in the Europa League group stage from 48 teams to 32.

Previously, there were three continental competitions, with the Cup Winners' Cup taking place between sides that had won their domestic knockout prize.

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Since then, Europe's top teams have met in the Champions League and Europa League, formerly known as the UEFA Cup.

But with Agnelli and Arsenal boss Ivan Gazidis representing the ECA on UEFA's 17-member ExCo, it would seem the decision to reintroduce a third UEFA competition for the first time since the demise of the Cup Winners' Cup in 1999 is a done deal.

Agnelli also repeated his call from a year ago for a drastic overhaul of the worldwide match calendar, which is drawn up by global soccer body Federation Internationale de Football Association and allocates dates for national team games.

Agnelli, who is also chairman of Italian champions Juventus, said: "A detailed assessment of the existing global match calendar is required prior to presenting a new model post-2024". "The current model needs modernising", added Agnelli, who is also president of Juventus.