UEFA Europa Conference League explained as Tottenham qualify for new competition

Tottenham have qualified for next season's inaugural Europa Conference League after finishing the Premier League campaign in seventh place.

Spurs will enter UEFA's new third-tier competition at the play-off stage, facing home and away legs to qualify for the group stage.

Fixtures will be played on Thursday nights, while will take place in Tirana, Albania on Wednesday, May 22 next year.

And the winners will earn a place in the following season's Europa League, which if course ultimately offers a route into the Champions League.

Here, Mirror Sport tells you everything you need to know about the Europa Conference League.

What is the Europa Conference League?

The Europa Conference League has been introduced to streamline the Europa League, with the second-tier competition being reduced from 48 to 32 teams.

In all, 184 teams will be involved in the Europa Conference League over the course of the season, including at least one from each of the 55 associations.

The competition will consist of three qualifying rounds, followed by a play-off round before the 32-team group stage.

England's place in the competition is reserved for the EFL Cup winners – but after that was lifted by Manchester City, with Leicester winning the FA Cup, the play-off spot went to the top flight's seventh-placed finishers.

What is the format?

The tournament will have three qualifying rounds before the play-off round takes place.

Winners in the play-off round will enter the group stage, along with the losers of the Europa League play-off round – with a total of 32 teams split into eight groups of four.

The top team in each group will go directly through to the round of 16 knockout stage.

Teams who finish second in the group stage will play off against teams who finish third in their Europa League group for places in the last 16.

The competition will be a straight knockout from that point on.

Who will play in the Europa Conference League?

There will be one team of from each of Europe’s top five leagues in the competition.

Nations placing six to 15th in UEFA’s coefficient rankings will enter two teams, while nations ranked 16th to 50th will have three teams.

Nations ranked 51st to 55th will also have two teams, but many of these so-called lesser clubs will face going through the qualifying rounds before going toe-to-toe with any potential big hitters.

What are the key dates?

Here are all the dates for next season's inaugural competition, according to UEFA's official website:

First qualifying round: July 8 and 15

Second qualifying round: July 22 and 29

Third qualifying round: August 5 and 12

Play-off round: August 19 and 26

Group stage matches: September 16 and 30, October 21, November 4 and 25, December 9.

Knockout round play-offs: February 17 and 24

Round of 16: March 10 and 17

Quarter-finals: April 7 and 14

Semi-finals: April 28 and May 5

Final: May 25

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