UEFA to reward Europa League winners with Champions League spot

UEFA are to attempt to increase the prestige of the Europa League by giving the winners of the tournament a place in the Champions League, the Guardian has reported.

The change will come into effect from the start of the 2014/15 season and could be announced on Friday. It is one of a raft of reforms discussed by the European governing body – others include awarding a fifth place in the Champions League to the larger European leagues, increasing the number of clubs that takes part in the Europa League and changing the rule that says a club that wins the Champions League but finishes outside the qualification places in their domestic competition usurps the qualification place of one of their league rivals.

Tottenham Hotspur were victims of the latter regulation last season when Chelsea won the Champions League but only finished sixth in the Premier League. Spurs, who claimed fourth place, were demoted into the Europa League while Chelsea were given the opportunity to defend their trophy, eventually becoming the first Champions League holders to exit at the group stage the following season. Under the new proposals, both Chelsea and Tottenham would enter the Champions League, as two of England’s five competing teams.

Chelsea are the current Europa League holders, beating Benfica 2-1 in Amsterdam earlier in May. Fernando Torres but the Premier League side in front only for an Oscar Cardozo penalty to level the scores, but a late Branislav Ivanovic header delivered the trophy to Rafael Benitez’s side.

UEFA are also to ratify their proposed 10-game ban for a player or official found to have racially abused one of their peers, while racial abuse from supporters will lead to part of the stadium being closed. A repeat offence will see a full ground closure. The anti-racism measures come into force from June 1 this year, meaning they will cover this summer’s European Under-21 Championships.

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