UEFA's executive committee met in Ljubljana, Slovenia earlier this week and proudly unveiled their latest pet project: the UEFA Europa Conference League.

This third-tier competition, conceived as a means to provide European football for clubs who are out of their depth in the Europa League, is still in the embryonic stage of its development but the few details that UEFA have released so far make for very worrying reading for Scottish football fans.

The introduction of the Europa Conference League will trigger changes in European football and Scotland will be one of the nations that is hit hardest in this restructuring. In particular, alterations made to the Europa League will have a wide-ranging effect. As it stands, 48 teams make up the groups in the Europa League but UEFA will cut this figure to 32 by the start of the 2021/22 season. 


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UEFA have decreed that the top 15 European nations, as determined by their club coefficient, will have exclusive access to the Europa League while teams based in countries ranked in 16th place and below will not feature at all. Instead, clubs from these countries will compete in the Europa Conference League - as will teams that drop into the third-tier competition from the Europa League.

The issue facing Scottish clubs is that we are currently ranked 19th in the coefficient table. Scotland would need to rise to 15th place by 2021 - not an impossible task, but certainly not an easy one - when the new changes in format are implemented.

Assuming that Scotland does not rise to 15th place, the consequences would be disastrous. The Premiership winners would still enter the Champions League during the qualifying rounds but if they were knocked out, as has happened to Celtic in the last two seasons, then they would drop into the Europa Conference League.

Similarly, Scotland's other three European representatives would not be given the opportunity to compete in the Europa League and would only qualify for the third-tier competition.


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We are still in the early stages of the Europa Conference League's development but it seems safe to assume that just as clubs that compete in the Europa League earn a fraction of what their Champions League counterparts accrue, so too would Conference League teams make just a fraction of what Europa League sides earn. In short, the vast financial chasm that has opened between Scotland and Europe's top five leagues would only get larger, and would grow at an exponential rate.

Scottish clubs have struggled at Europe's top table for some time now but both Celtic and Rangers have generally acquitted themselves well in the Europa League. Exclusion from this tier of continental football and the loss in revenue that this would entail would be hugely damaging to Scottish football, both in terms of reputation and finance. It is a hit that Scotland's clubs cannot afford to take.