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AP: UEFA discussing third European club tournament

Belgium Soccer Europa League

Standard Liege’s Anthony Knockaert, right, runs with the ball after scoring during a Europa League playoff second leg match against Molde at Maurice Dufrasne stadium in Liege, Belgium on Thursday Aug. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Laurent Dubrule)


Could a third European competition be on the way?

Before you jump to claims about money-grabbing UEFA, FIFA and whoever else, this one may be a good idea.

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Designed for the clubs who fail out of Europa League during the summer’s qualifying rounds, it would gift new life to the minnows of the world, the ones who are giants in their countries but can’t reliably overtake AZ Alkmaar, Brondby or Legia Warsaw in Europe?

It’s unclear whether the idea would be for strictly smaller clubs, teams could opt-out, or when it would be introduced (though an AP report says it’d take until at least 2018, the expiry of current tournament TV rights deals).

From the Associated Press:

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan told The Associated Press that the intention of the new competition would be to allow teams to “maintain European football throughout the autumn and perhaps into the new year.”

“It’s a discussion around whether it’s a separate third competition exclusively for smaller countries who then relinquish their place in the Europa League and/or Champions League or whether it’s a competition that basically acts as a further safety net for those clubs that enter the Champions League or Europa League but are typically out by August and then (instead) they fall down into a third competition,” Regan said in an interview.

If there’s an opt-out to avoid clubs mailing it in like West Ham’s brief Europa campaign this summer, it’s a neat idea in that it wouldn’t detract from Europa or the UCL. Who’s going to say, “Man, I loved the Europa League until this new Legendary Blatter League arrived. Really cheapened things.”

Follow @NicholasMendola