Europe's leading clubs have supported proposals for an overhaul of the UEFA Cup format.
UEFA Cup set for revamp
The clubs supported a revamp of UEFA's second major club competition at the two-day UEFA Club Workshop in Nyon, Switzerland, which closed on Tuesday.
No entry from Champions League
A majority of the clubs also supported a change to the format whereby there should be no entry into the UEFA Cup from the UEFA Champions League.
Variety of issues
Representatives of 64 clubs who are part of the UEFA Club Panel, as well as nine clubs that are still involved in this season's UEFA Champions League or UEFA Cup, discussed a variety of issues related to European club football at the workshop.
Knockout and group mix
A statement issued by UEFA said that there was consensus to support changes to the UEFA Cup, based on a mixed knockout and group stage format, from the start of the 2003/04 season.
Three qualifying rounds
Under the proposal, there would be three qualifying rounds involving six match days, with the qualifying structure parallel to the UEFA Champions League qualifying phase.
A first round comprising 64 teams would be played under the knockout format. The remaining 32 teams would then contest a single group phase with eight groups of four clubs each. Sixteen teams would then go through to the final knockout phase comprising quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final.
Thirteen match days
The revised competition would comprise 13 match days and 125 matches as from the start of the group phase. Matches would be played on Thursdays only, with two fixed kick-off times of 19.00 and 21.00 hours.
The UEFA statement said that there had been a variety of views on the issue of clubs joining the UEFA Cup from the UEFA Champions League, but that a majority supported no entry into the UEFA Cup from UEFA's blue-riband club competition.
UEFA Chief Executive Gerhard Aigner said: "This was an excellent meeting with a genuine spirit of co-operation and common purpose. There is always more work to be done but this was a very encouraging two days. We covered a number of key areas. I would like to thank all of the clubs and the representatives of the UEFA Committees who have participated in this very productive session."
Under the current format, clubs who finish in third position in their group in the first group stage move into the third round of the same season's UEFA Cup.
Champions League support
UEFA also said that the clubs had confirmed their support for the UEFA Champions League format of 32 teams in two group stages, which UEFA has decided to maintain for the time being.
The clubs were also informed at the meeting about UEFA's new club licensing system, which UEFA intends to introduce from the 2004/05 season as a way of improving overall quality standards in European club football.
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