In an absolutely pointless exercise, UEFA have decided to rename the UEFA Cup to the Europa League from next season.
The UEFA Cup has undergone a number of changes in recent years going from a straight knock-out competition to a number of group stages designed to accommodate more clubs during the European football season.
It was first played in 1971, taking over from the old Inter-Cities Fairs Cup which, as its name suggests, was originally played between teams made up of players from clubs based in the same city (the 'one city, one team' rule).
The format will change slightly, with 12 groups of 4 teams playing in a league format to yield 24 teams in first and second places. They will be joined by the eight 3rd place 'losers' from the Champions League group stage for the best of 32 knockout round. The current competition has 40 teams in 8 groups of 5 playing for those 24 places before the knockout round.
The main changes will be to the logo and the centralisation of broadcasting rights. The other change is that beaten cup finalists (in e.g. the FA Cup, Coppa Italia, or Copa del Rey) will no longer be allowed into the Europa League if the cup winners have already qualified for the Champions League.
UEFA president Michel Platini said that he hoped the name change would "give the UEFA Europa League a successful new impetus".
Frankly, more games does not mean more quality football, just more meaningless encounters that hardly anyone will watch or care about until the very final stages. It is and will remain a very poor cousin to the Champions League and the repackaging is merely cosmetic.
UEFA have of course already decided that more games means more money for them with the expansion of the European Championships from 16 to 24 nations. All this means is that there'll be more mismatched nations taking part who would have been better off knocked out in the qualifying rounds.
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