Europe's secondary club competition, the UEFA Cup, has long been languishing in the shadows of the Champions League. Europe's governing body opted Friday to put lipstick on a pig by confirming that the UEFA Cup will be renamed the Europa League, at the same time as revamping its format.
After qualifying rounds are done, the competition will feature 48 clubs in 12 groups of four, with the top two in each joining the eight third-placed clubs from the Champions League in a 32-club knock-out stage. Teams that finished as runners-up in their domestic cup competitions will no longer qualify. Previously, losers in FA Cup finals qualified for the competition if the winners had already qualified for European competition through their league position.
"I am convinced the new format will give the UEFA Europa League a successful new impetus," said UEFA President Michel Platini. We believe in Michel, so that's convinced us too.