UEFA to introduce Nations League

UEFA will seek to introduce a 54-team Nations League from 2018-19 to replace international friendlies and run alongside the World Cup and European Championships, the Daily Telegraph has reported.

The newspaper claims the governing body will pass the resolution establishing the competition at its Congress this week, with all member countries already agreeing to support the motion.

While the exact format of the tournament isn’t yet known, the Telegraph adds that the top 16 countries in Europe will be divided into four groups of four with the teams meeting home and away. These fixtures would take place during the same international window as World Cup and European Championship qualifiers.

England would likely be in the top 16, alongside the likes of Spain, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Portugal.

The 54 nations would be separated into three or four divisions and countries could be promoted or relegated between them. The group winners would play each other in a final four tournament, held at a neutral venue, with all games taking place over a few days.

Winners from lower divisions could be rewarded with a place at the European Championships.

The idea has been welcomed by Greg Dyke, the chairman of the Football Association, while the newspaper notes that the FA would welcome more prestigious international opposition to help sell tickets to England games at Wembley and pay off the cost of the national stadium.

England’s Euro 2016 qualifiers are not felt to be fixtures that would entice fans whereas the prospect of playing Spain or Germany would. England face Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and San Marino and could qualify for the tournament, held in France, even if they finish third in the group.

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