Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

English FA gives backing to proposed Uefa Nations League

Bold move: Michel Platini wants to see the end of friendly games

UEFA's new 'Nations League' competition to replace international friendlies from 2018 has been hailed as an "exciting" development by the Football Association.

FA general secretary Alex Horne said the new competition, which will also provide four qualification places for Euro 2020, would give England some glamour ties against other top countries in Europe.

UEFA confirmed the new competition at its Congress and the 54 European member countries will be split into four divisions, with England set to be in a top division of 12 to 16 teams along with Spain, Germany, Portugal, Italy and Holland.

Horne, speaking after the UEFA Congress in Astana, Kazakhstan, said: "The prospect of England playing three or four teams from the best 12 or 16 countries in Europe on a home and away basis should be very exciting.

"It means we will go from a major tournament such as a World Cup straight into a set of three international double-headers between September and November."

UEFA president Michel Platini, announcing the new competition, said it would replace friendlies that "nobody wants".

The new tournament will be played every two years on the dates currently reserved for friendlies, building up to a final in the June of odd-numbered years.

Each country will play two or three other nations in their division on a home and away basis with the winner of each mini-league going to a climax of semi-finals and final at a neutral venue.

The winner of each division will win qualification for Euro 2020.

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