Honorary Member Of Forums4airports
Jan 14, 2009
Wurzel Country
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This new competition began this week. It’s designed to counter the lack of interest in what many see as meaningless friendly matches which are often no more than public practice matches.

I find it rather imaginative in concept - not necessarily imaginative in a positive sense - but I’m prepared to see how it works out, although the concept can appear to be arcane.

The format involves all 55 of the countries affiliated to UEFA that are divided into four leagues, viz:

League A through to League D with League A containing the highest ranked countries and League D the lowest ranked. Each league is further divided into four groups of either three or four countries who will play each other twice - home and away - within their group.

England is in League A and has Spain and Croatia in its group.
Northern Ireland is in League B with Austria and Bosnia & Herzegovina
Wales is in League B with Republic of Ireland and Denmark
Scotland is in Group C with Albania and Israel

Ok so far? This has been the easy bit.

Now, only countries in League A can win the competition. The winners of the four groups in League A will play in a finals competition next year in a country to be decided. It will be one of the countries that has made it to the finals.

What’s in it for the other countries?

The winners of each group in League B will be promoted to League A for the next competition that will commence in autumn 2020 after that summer's UEFA EURO 2020. The bottom teams in each group in League A will be relegated to League B. Similar promotion and relegation will apply down through the Leagues.

There’s more.

The Nations League is linked to UEFA EURO 2020. Later this year the draw will be made for the qualifying matches for EURO 2020. This will be more streamlined this time around than in the past in that there will be ten qualifying leagues and the top country and runner-up in each qualifying league will pass to the finals (for the first time there will be 24 finalists and also for the first time the finals will take place in a number of countries with the semi-finals and final at Wembley).

That leaves four places to be filled at EURO 2020. That’s where the Nations League comes in. I won’t go into the minutiae of the complexities (I’m not sure I understand them myself) but in essence the best placed 16 countries that have not qualified for EURO 2020 via the qualifying leagues will enter a play-off competition to decide which four countries progress to the EURO 2020 finals.

That’s all nice and simple then.

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