Concerned about the dwindling appetite for meaningless friendlies, UEFA have decided to take a pro-active step by introducing a brand new international competition.
Starting in 2018, European nations will compete in the UEFA Nations League – a tournament featuring 55 teams, four leagues (split into mini-groups), promotion, relegation and a ‘Final Four’ showpiece.
The result of six years of planning, it’s hoped that UEFA’s new tournament will drastically reduce the number of pointless international friendlies being played.
Here’s how it works (via the UEFA website):
League allocation will be determined by each country’s UEFA ranking in November 2017. The leagues will be tiered with the highest ranking nations in League A, the next highest in League B and so on.
Each league will then be split into groups, made up of three or four teams.
At the end of each round of fixtures, four teams will be relegated to the league below and four teams will be promoted to the league above. They will play at their new league level in the next version of the competition, which will start in 2020.
The winners from each of the four groups in League A will compete in the ‘Final Four’ in the summer of 2019.
The four group winners from League A will compete in semi-finals (one leg only) and then a final with the winner being crowned Nations League champion.
Capiche? Basically, UEFA are trying to repackage their old tat. The same old boring plarp but in a shiny new box.
Just so you’re aware, all Nations League group matches will take place on six days spread across international breaks in September, October and November.
The ‘Final Four’ matches will then take place the following summer, after all the major club competitions have ended.
Plus, it’s all going to be broadcast on Sky Sports, which is jolly nice for them.