Ireland’s UEFA ranking in November of this year will determine where they are classified in the new UEFA Nations League. And how they perform in the new competition beginning next year could have a major bearing on the Boys in Green’s chances of appearing at EURO 2020 on home soil in Dublin.
UEFA have released details of the format for the new Nations League which begins in November 2018. The 55 participating teams will be split into four leagues, A–B–C–D, according to their strength. The Republic of Ireland’s UEFA coefficient ranking at the end of the current World Cup qualifiers will determine where they are classified for the new competition which is designed to do away with meaningless international friendlies.
The UEFA Nations League will be played before qualifiers start for the multi-city Euro 2020 tournament, where Dublin will be one of the group hosts. Depending on which league countries are placed in, teams will be relegated and promoted, with the four group winners of the top League A progressing to the Final Four competition. The Final Four will be played on a knock-out basis to determine the UEFA Nations League champion in June 2019.
The UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying draw will be made after the completion of the UEFA Nations League groups. Each of the four leagues in the competition will also include play-offs consisting of the four group winners within each league. The four winners of these play-offs will also earn a spot at Euro 2020, meaning teams like Ireland have two opportunities to reach the tournament, via the Nations League play-offs, or the traditional Euro qualifiers which will run over ten matchdays from March to November 2019.
UEFA say there will be no additional demands on players and clubs as the games will adhere to the current agreed international match calendar while the governing body also says the new Nations League will give national team supporters the chance to see their team in competitive action, instead of friendlies that traditionally fail to excite. And of course, it creates a new international trophy and the chance to compete regularly with Europe’s elite sides.