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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » UEFA Cup to become Europa League

UEFA Cup to become Europa League

September 26, 2008 18:29 IST

The UEFA Cup will be renamed the UEFA Europa League from next season in an effort to boost the competition that has lost much of its appeal, European soccer's governing body said on Friday.

The event will not only have a new name but also a new 48-team group stage with both home and away matches, UEFA said in a statement after a meeting of its executive committee.

UEFA hope centralised marketing of broadcast rights and of sponsorship as well as a new logo will give the competition a new lease of life.

"These changes will improve this historic competition which is very important for UEFA and for European football, as it gives more fans, players and clubs the thrill of European club football," UEFA president Michel Platini said in a statement.

"I am convinced the new format will give the UEFA Europa League a successful new impetus," Platini added.

The UEFA Cup, which was introduced in the 1971-72 season to replace the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, has struggled in recent years, taking second place to the more prestigious and more lucrative Champions League.

The only European club competition besides the Champions League since the Cup Winners' Cup was dropped in 1999, the UEFA Cup lost much of its significance despite efforts to revitalise it such as the introduction of a group stage.

The fact that clubs who have failed to survive the group stage of the Champions League continue in the UEFA Cup has contributed to its perception as a second-rate event.

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