The 2020/2021 European season has only just begun, but it is also interesting to look ahead to the next football year. Indeed, for the first time since the turn of the century, there will again be three European tournaments: the Champions League and the Europa League will be joined by the Conference League. What will the European route look like from now on for the Dutch clubs? FootballPrimeur explains.Dutch delegatesThe coefficient ranking over the period 2015-2020 is leading for the distribution of European tickets in 2021/2022. The Netherlands closed last season as number ten in Europe and is therefore allowed to delegate five clubs: one starts in the Champions League group stage, one in the Champions League preliminaries, one in the Europa League preliminaries and two in the Conference League preliminaries.
Champions League (minimum one, maximum two Dutch clubs) The structure of the Champions League does not change. 26 clubs qualify directly for the pool stage: four national champions and two non-national champions enter through the preliminaries. The Eredivisie champion of 20/21 will be able to go straight into the billiards anyway.
The number 2 starts in the second preliminary round, but it has to be very colourful if European football is not to be guaranteed until the winter break. If it loses in the Champions League preliminaries, there will be a second chance in the Europa League: now there is another escape with the Conference League. One winning diptych is enough for European football until December, but with three lost diptychs it is irrevocably over, second place in the Eredivisie or not.
Europa League (minimum zero, maximum two Dutch clubs) The second tournament of Europa is being slimmed down: in recent years, 48 teams have played in the group stage, from 21/22 onwards there will be – as in the Champions League – 32. The Dutch contribution will therefore be much smaller. Last year AZ, PSV and Feyenoord played in the Europa League pool phase, next season four Dutch clubs – AZ, Feyenoord, PSV and Willem II – could be active, but in 2021 the Netherlands will get a maximum of two tickets.
The first is for the winner of the KNVB Cup (or the number 3 of the rankings, should the cup be won by the number one or two). This team will be in the last Europa League preliminary round, but is already certain from European football to the winter break. If the Europa League proves to be a bridge too far, the group stage of the Conference League will be the safety net. The number 2 of the Eredivisie could also end up in the Europa League if it falls in the Champions League preliminaries.
Conference League (minimum zero, maximum four Dutch clubs)The new tournament to be formed will also have 32 participants in the pool phase. There is a good chance that Dutch clubs will be among them, although they will have to go through the preliminary rounds first. The number 3 of the Eredivisie (or the number 4, depending on who wins the cup) starts in the third preliminary round. The winner of the play-offs gets in one stop earlier and thus has to survive three preliminary rounds before the group stage starts. The number 2 and the cup winner may also enter the Conference League, provided they drop out in the Champions League and/or Europa League preliminary round.
Conclusions The Conference League: it does not sound very exciting, but the new UEFA tournament seems to be becoming very interesting for us. The majority of Dutch clubs are expected to play in this league, which is less heavily staffed than the Europa League. Moreover, the Eredivisie champion will be able to enter the Champions League again straight away. We could once again score well on the coefficient ranking in the coming years.
On a domestic level, the battle for the KNVB Cup, in particular, has become a lot more interesting. Winning the Pine cone is in fact a guarantee of European football until the winter break, either in the Europa League or in the Conference League. A second and third place in the Eredivisie are not. In the recent past, Ajax and PSV gave away the cup by setting up their second team against SC Cambuur and RKC Waalwijk: it seems unlikely that we will see this happen again.
However, the biggest winner of the new format is based in the Swiss Nyon. UEFA has already been allowed to organise and broadcast 120 group matches this season, divided over two tournaments: from 2021 onwards this will be as many as 144, divided over three tournaments. More matches, more exposure, more revenue for the European Football Association.
Source: Bert Kassies