REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
To accommodate the expansion from a 16 team finals tournament to 24 teams, the format will be changed from that used in 2012 with the addition of two extra groups in the group stage, and an extra round in the knockout stages. The six groups (A to F) would still contain four teams each, with the top two from each group still going through to the knockout stage. In the new format however, the four best third-ranked sides would also progress, leaving 16 teams going into the new round of 16 knockout stage, ahead of the usual quarter-finals, semi-finals and final, and only 8 teams going out at the group stage. The format is exactly the one which was applied to the 1986, 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cups, with the exception of the absence of a third-place play-off.
This format generates a total of 51 games, compared with 31 games for the previous 16-team tournament, to be played over a period of 31 days. UEFA's general secretary Gianni Infantino previously described the format as "not ideal" due to the need for third-ranked teams in the group stage advancing, leading to a difficulty in preventing situations where teams might be able to know in advance what results they need to progress out of the group, lending to a lack of suspense for fans, or even the prospect of mutually beneficial collusion between teams.
The UK broadcasting rights to tournament itself will be shared by BBC and ITV.
The first steps toward the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League final have been taken with the first and second qualiying round draws taking place in Nyon:
First qualifying round draw (matches 30 June & 7 July)
Second qualifying round draw (matches 14 & 21 July)
The list of clubs is provisional and is subject to pending legal and CAS proceedings and final confirmation from UEFA. The Friends Arena in Solna, Sweden will stage the 2017 UEFA Europa League final on 24 May.
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