In recent days there has been a lot of talk about the regional football league that should start in 2018. The Balkan League, as we will call it, will be a competition of football clubs from the former Yugoslavia. So, what is it all about?
Index.hr reports on 11 December 2016 that it was agreed that within the league, 24 football clubs from Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia would all participate, with a plan to begin in September 2018. That same year, it has also been announced that the reformed European competitions of Champions League and Europa League will also begin, making it much more difficult for the teams from this region to qualify under the new system.
If one of the clubs participating in the Balkan league should qualify for the group stages of a European competition, the next best-placed club from their national league will replace them for the Balkan league, and play will continue as usual.
Group Stage and final on neutral ground
Vasko Dojčinovski, head of the Macedonian league, worked out in detail the system of competition for the league. There would be six groups with four clubs, each playing six rounds. After that, those who advanced would play in the round of 16, while the matches including the final will be played at a neutral venue.
UEFA has already prepared the money for the Balkan league
The important news is that Balkan league has already received the support of UEFA, the European football organization who has now approved a new format for Champions League that appeases to the rich clubs. In addition, money is said to have already been set aside for the Balkan league.
So what is there left to agree on?
“In the air are still the benefits for winners and finalists. We are a bit immodest but for the winner we want a place in the Champions League, and for the runner-up a spot in the European league, which will make it little more difficult for UEFA to pass,” revealed Dojčinovski for Vecernji List.
The problem could be the fans…
“The games played in Champions League are at high risk, are they not? We agreed that for such matches we would apply special precautions. We take the interests of football, and football must go on, forward, and unencumbered by politics,” added Dojčinovski.
The teams that will so far be participating are: Olimpija, Rijeka, Dinamo, Hajduk, Željezničar, Sarajevo, Budućnost, Vardar, Čukarički, Partizan, Crvena Zvezda, and Vojvodina. In addition, the clubs that participate in the Balkan league should get millions for participation and placement.