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Uefa reverse Ireland's relegation in shake-up to Nations League

The indignity of our dropping into League C has been erased by our friends and partners in Europe.

File photo from the inaugural Nations League draw in 2017.
File photo from the inaugural Nations League draw in 2017.
Image: Pascal Muller/INPHO

IT’S NOT QUITE becoming the 33rd team – but Uefa have done Ireland a favour by expanding the Nations League format and thus reversing the indignity of our relegation to League C. 

Ireland failed to win a game under Martin O’Neill in the inaugural staging of the competition a year ago, and thus finished bottom of a group featuring Denmark and Wales and looked set to drop into the third tier of the competition for its next staging in 2020. 

A decision taken at the Uefa Executive Committee meeting in Slovenia today, however, has expanded the competition and thus handed Ireland a reprieve. 

The top three leagues have been expanded to comprise 16 teams each, with League D left with just seven teams. The top three tiers have been widened to meet a demand among Uefa members to play even fewer friendly matches, and so will consist of four groups of four teams each. 

Thus relegated sides have been kept where they were, with Germany, Croatia, Iceland and Poland benefitting and staying in the top tier. Promoted sides have kept their reward, however, and so Sweden, Ukraine, Bosnia, and Denmark will compete in League A as expected. 

Ireland, meanwhile, stave off relegation along with Northern Ireland, Turkey, and Slovakia.

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The draw for the 2020/21 edition of the competition will take place in Amsterdam on 3 March 2020. The full breakdown of the competition can be read here

Elsewhere, Uefa confirmed that the newly-created third-tier club competition will be called the Uefa Europa Conference League. Games will be played on Thursdays, with games kicking off at 5.45pm and 8pm Irish time. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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