Uefa Nations League: What is it? How does it work? Who can Ireland play?
New European competition replaces most friendlies and offers a route into Euro 2020
Ireland could meet Denmark again in the new Uefa Nations League. Photo: Getty Images
What is it?
The Nations League is a new tournament that starts in September 2018 which will largely replace international friendlies and run alongside Euro 2020 qualifying.
How does it work?
The 55 teams within Uefa will be split into four leagues. Within those leagues they will be split further into groups of three or four (depending on the number of teams in the league) and will play each other in a round robin format. The winners of each group will then advance to playoffs to determine a winner of the league, while the best four teams will be promoted to league up, with the worst four teams being relegated to the league below.
How does it work alongside Euro 2020 qualifying?
The four league winners after the playoffs will qualify automatically for Euro 2020.
But does that not mean that the regular qualifying campaign will be meaningless for those teams?
No, it doesn’t because the playoffs don’t take place until March 2020 while the regular qualifying campaign ends in November 2019. If a team in the playoffs qualifies through the regular campaign then their playoff place goes to the next best team in their league.
What league are Ireland in?
Ireland are in League B – the second tier. The leagues are as follows:
League A: Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, France, England, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Iceland, Croatia, Holland.
League B: Austria, Wales, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine, Republic of Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Turkey.
League C: Hungary, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, Greece, Serbia, Albania, Norway, Montenegro, Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania.
League D: Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Malta, Andorra, Kosovo, San Marino, Gibraltar.
When will the groups be decided?
The group stage draw takes place on January 24th, 2018. The first games will take place on September 6th, 2018.