Tottenham’s defeat at the hands of Manchester United in the Carling Cup final on Sunday means that both fifth and sixth place will provide qualification for next season’s new UEFA Europa League.
Last September, UEFA announced the revamping of the UEFA Cup starting from season 2009/10 in a bid to raise the Cup’s profile. The competition will be called the ‘Europa League’ and will start with 48 clubs in 12 groups.
According to a UEFA statement, “The changes to the name, logo and brand identity of the competition are the next logical step following the decision to alter the format of the UEFA Cup and create a true group stage, with both home and away matches.”
The re-branding of the competition is expected to provide more revenue for the clubs involved as it has been restructured into a format very similar to that of the more prestigious Champions League.
“We believe that a new name and a new brand identity will help with sponsors and with the whole identity of the competition,” said UEFA General Secretary David Taylor.
“The decision is about timing,” he added. “We’ve got a new competition and a new format for 2009-12, with centralisation of the group stage and with the group stage being much more similar to the UEFA Champions League format Ã¢â‚¬â€œ whereby teams will play home and away.”
In England, apart from the top four league places that lead to Champions League qualification, there are three spots for Europa League qualification: fifth place in the league; the winners of the Carling Cup and the winners of the FA Cup.
Like with the UEFA Cup, there will be a total of three places in the first of four qualifying rounds of the Europa League for Fair Play winners.
And following a change of the rules, should a team that has already qualified for Europe win the FA Cup this season, seventh place in the league will also lead to a Europa League spot.
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