Platini urges radical Euro qualifying rethink

NO more play-offs, smaller groups and a two-phase qualifying competition are among the major changes to the 2016 European Championship being proposed by Michel Platini.

The UEFA president revealed his plans to Europe’s 53 member federations in Cyprus last month at the start of his second term of office. The proposed changes arise from the expansion of the final stages in France to 24 teams, and the need to increase interest in the qualifying competition.

According to France Football magazine, Platini’s plans provide for 13 groups of 4 teams in Phase One of the revamped preliminary round, which would begin in September 2014.

With every team playing a maximum of six matches, these groups would be decided by Spring 2015, with the 13 group winners joining host nation France in the finals.

The remaining 39 teams would then be drawn into 9 groups of four teams and one group of three teams. The 10 group winners from Phase Two would complete the finalists.

In addition, the Phase One qualifiers would be invited to contest a curtain-raising cup-style event in France in summer 2015, much like the Confederations Cup serves at present as a dry run for the FIFA World Cup finals.

While UEFA stated yesterday that there are no concrete plans to change the qualification format, it also confirmed that it constantly reviews the format of its competitions and regularly looks at various format options.

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