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Ireland placed in second tier for inaugural UEFA Nations League

12 October 2017
Ireland placed in second tier for inaugural UEFA Nations League

England will take their place alongside the heavyweights of Europe in league A when the inaugural Nations League starts in 2018, Uefa confirmed today as it outlined the format of the new competition.

"The Nations League" sees the 55 European national teams placed into four pots with their position depending on their rankings.

Joining England, Germany, Spain, Italy, France and Holland in League A will be Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, Poland, Iceland and Croatia.

The competition will take place over six matchdays - double-headers during the worldwide breaks already on the football calendar in September, October and November 2018.

The top four-ranked teams that do not qualify for Euro 2020 will contest a play-off in March 2020, with one finals place on offer.

Following the final round of qualifying games this week, the four different "leagues" of European clubs were confirmed yesterday.

A freakish new system will see the four best placed teams in each group who have not qualified for Euro 2020 take part in a play-off with one spot at the tournament each allocated to the four groups.

Ireland will be joined by Wales, Austria, Slovakia, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Demark, Turkey and the Czech Republic.

But, for fairness, any team that wins their Nations League group will not be "promoted" into a play-off in a league above their own. The winners of each group will be promoted to league above and the losers will be relegated.

If the winners of the Nations League group have already qualified via the normal route, their place will go to the next best team in their group that hasn't secured a place.

League C contains Hungary, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, Greece, Serbia, Albania, Norway, Montenegro, Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Cyprus, Estonia and Lithuania.

Uefa says teams in three-sided groups will play on four of the six matchdays.

Division D: Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Georgia, Belarus, Armenia, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Malta, Kosovo, Andorra, San Marino and Gibraltar.

Each league will have its own play-off competition with single-leg semi-final and final to decide who gets the final four places.

The Euro 2020 qualification play-offs are set for March 2020 as mentioned above, and Euro 2020 itself, which will be played across the continent, will begin three months later.