This season, Tottenham Hotspur was the lone Premier League club that started in the new UEFA Europa Conference League. Spurs have since been bounced out, but Leicester City dropped into it from the Europa League after group stage action.
It’s the first time since 1998-99 that there will be three major European club competitions, along with the Champions League and Europa League.
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What is the UEFA Europa Conference League?
The Europa Conference League is the third-tier European competition, after the Champions League and Europa League. The highest finishers in the biggest domestic leagues who didn’t make the main two competitions join top finishers from smaller countries in the Conference League. As teams are eliminated from the other two European leagues, they drop down into the Conference League.
UEFA Europa Conference League Schedule
The 2021-22 Europa Conference League ultimately includes 181 teams from 54 of the 55 UEFA member associations.
Four of Europe’s major domestic leagues will have one team each in the tournament: England (Tottenham – based on their seventh place Premier League finish last season), Germany (Union Berlin, seventh in the Bundesliga), Italy (A.S. Roma, seventh in Serie A), and France (Rennes, sixth in Ligue 1). Those four squads will come into the competition in the playoff round, which is the fourth stage of the tournament.
Spain doesn’t have an entry, because Villarreal, who would have been in this competition after finishing seventh in La Liga, actually won the Europa League last season, which gets them into this season’s Champions League.
The Europa Conference League began in July with the first qualifying round with 66 teams. The second qualifying round, also in July, had 108 teams: the 33 winners from the previous round, 18 teams eliminated during Champions League qualifying rounds, and 57 new clubs. The third qualifying round in August had 64 teams: 54 winners from the previous round, one team eliminated from the Champions League, and nine new clubs.
Tottenham Hotspur Europa Conference League Group Stage Fixtures
Tottenham started their tournament in the playoff round with 44 teams: 32 winners from the previous round, eight teams eliminated from the Europa League, and the three clubs from Italy, Germany and France.
Tottenham advanced past Pacos de Ferreira, who finished fifth in Portugal’s Primeira Liga last season, in a two-game series. Both teams won on their home pitch, but Tottenham advanced on goal differential after a 3-0 win in the second leg.
In the group stage draw on August 26, Tottenham were placed in Group G. The top two teams from each of the eight groups were to advance to the knockout round.
Europa Conference League Group Stage Schedule
The entire fixtures list is available at UEFA.com. The home team is listed first.
- September 16 – Stade Rennais FC vs. Tottenham – Tied 2-2
- September 30 – Tottenham vs. NS Mura – Tottenham won 5-1
- October 21 – Vitesse vs. Tottenham – Vitesse won 1-0
- November 4 – Tottenham vs. Vitesse – Tottenham won 3-2
- November 25 – NS Mura vs. Tottenham – NS Mura won 2-1
- December 9 – Tottenham vs. Stade Rennais FC – This game was postponed due to a Covid outbreak at Tottenham. UEFA later ruled that counted as a forfeit for Spurs, which resulted in their failing to qualify for the knockout stage.
At the time Spurs’ game against Stade Rennais was postponed, it was still necessary to determine who would advance out of the group. It remains to be seen what action UEFA will take, as they must determine whether Spurs or Vitesse advance to the next round.
Future Europa Conference League Dates
After group stage action, the knockout phase draw was on December 13, and fixtures will be played from February through May 2022.
Leicester City entered in this round, and drew Randers from the Danish Superliga for a two-game series. Tottenham failed to qualify from the group stage.
The final will be held May 25, 2022 in Albania. The winner will automatically get into next season’s Europa League, unless the club qualifies for the Champions League based on their domestic league finish.
Watch the Europa Conference League