This is what the UEFA Nations League will mean for Ireland

Oct 12, 2017, 00:37
This is what the UEFA Nations League will mean for Ireland

The event changes European Championship qualifying, with one team from each Nations League division to reach Euro 2020, with the other 20 places going to the top two sides from the 10 groups of the subsequent, traditional qualifiers.

The top 12 nations, based on the 2017 UEFA National Ranking, are in League A will be drawn into four groups of three and play each other home and away on the worldwide dates in September, October and November next year.

The Nations League - the brainchild of Michel Platini - is being introduced to bring in more interest in friendly dates while there is the added bonus of a backdoor entry into Euro 2020.

League A includes the likes of world champions Germany, reigning European Championship winners Portugal, France and England.

The draw for the groups within each league will take place on 24th January 2018.

The victor of each of the four groups will be drawn to face each other in a Euro 2020 play-off.

The competition, which will begin in September 2018 and will create four qualifying places for Euro 2020.

Group games will be followed by semi-finals involving the four group winners and a final to be played in June 2019.

Ireland will be joined by Wales, Austria, Slovakia, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Demark, Turkey and the Czech Republic.

The third pot consists of Montenegro, Israel, Bulgaria and Finland, while the final pot has just three sides - Cyprus, Estonia and Lithuania.

The top team in each group will be promoted and the bottom team relegated for the next Nations League competition which takes place in 2021.

Today it was announced which teams will feature in the four leagues.

They will be drawn against either Greece, Serbia, Albania and Norway, who make up the next four best ranked sides in League C.

In a similar format, the four group winners will advance to the semi-finals. The four group winners will be promoted to League C for the 2020 edition.

Wales have missed out on potentially money-spinning games after failing to make it into League A in the new UEFA Nations League format.

The Euro 2020 qualification play-offs are set for March 2020 as mentioned above, and Euro 2020 itself, which will be played across the continent, will begin three months later.