By Kevin Coulson
Last update 11 minutes ago - Published on 17/09/2015 at 00:44
UEFA could create a third club competition for European teams, according to reports.
The idea was discussed at a meeting of the 54 UEFA members on Wednesday and it would feature sides that fail to advance from the qualifying rounds for the Europa League – UEFA’s second-tier competition.
Changes would not come until 2018 – as that is when the current set of TV rights expire – and the talks are at a very early stage.
Volodymyr Geninson, executive director at the Football Federation of Ukraine, told The Associated Press: "It will give more opportunity to the clubs who never get in the final stages to participate (in Europe)."
The Ukrainians support the idea, and Geninson said "it's more for participation than making money."
Such a competition would support the plans of UEFA President Michel Platini to give smaller nations increased access to competitions. The Frenchman has already expanded the European Championship to 24 teams and arranged the hosting of Euro 2020 across the continent.
The third-tier competition could be completed before the end of the calendar year, as opposed to going right through to the conclusion of the existing European season.
This idea will appeal to smaller clubs which are unlikely to feature in the top two tiers of European competition. From an English perspective, however, teams would surely prefer not to be included. There are already the beginnings of teams fielding weakened XIs because their domestic commitments are too much. Look at Everton, who fell six places in the league last year after a 10-game run to the round of 16 in the Europa League.
Fans are starting to be short-changed when they go to see their teams, expecting a first-choice line-up. If you look at the Euro 2016 qualifiers, there has been a string of meaningless matches with the increased participation.
The smaller teams need to be included so they can have experience of playing at a better level and gradually improve their standard. However, by broadening the field too much UEFA runs the risk of devaluing their competitions and this seems like a step too far.