Nations League: New European tournament to be confirmed

 

A "League of Nations" that would be a third major tournament for European countries after the World Cup and European Championship is expected to be given the go-ahead by Uefa on Thursday.

Games would be played in odd-numbered years on dates reserved for friendlies, starting after the 2018 World Cup.

No exact details have been confirmed, but there would be up to four divisions with promotion and relegation, plus a 'final four' competition in the summer.

England would likely be in a top tier.

League of Nations key points

  • Played biennially in odd-numbered years
  • Winners of the lower divisions could be granted entry to the European Championships
  • The first tournament is scheduled for after the 2018 World Cup
  • There will be up to four divisions, with the top tier expected to feature England

The 54 member associations of European football's governing body will vote on the proposal at its annual congress in Kazakhstan.

Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino has confirmed an agreement to set up the new tournament should be reached on Thursday.

He said: "What has triggered what is being called the Nations League is the international calendar and the dates for friendly matches.

"We have been looking at optimising the structure of the calendar without bringing in any more dates.

"There are teams everyone wants to play against and other teams who struggle to get the opponents they'd ideally like. For all national associations, the fact is that national team matches are key for their development."

On rankings, England would be in the top division alongside the likes of Spain, Germany and Italy. Each division would then be divided into groups with the winners qualifying for a semi-final and final, played at neutral venues.

Winners of the lower divisions could be granted entry to the European Championship.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - ranked 31, 34 and 39 respectively by Uefa  - could find themselves playing each other in the third of four divisions using the current national team coefficient.

While matches will be played on dates reserved for friendlies, there will still be flexibility for smaller countries to arrange high-profile fixtures with bigger European teams and for nations to play friendlies against national sides from outside Europe.

The Football Association is in favour of the plan, with chairman Greg Dyke saying earlier this month: "The hard thing is the detail but I think a Nations League where we played the top nations would be very attractive."