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UEFA announces new format for club competitions
The UEFA Executive Committee today approved a new format for its club competitions as of the 2024/25 season.
The reforms come after an extensive consultation across the football family and received unanimous backing from the ECA Board and the UEFA Club Competitions Committee (made of a majority of club representatives) last Friday.

The changes made are designed to secure the positive future of European football at every level and meet the evolving needs of all its stakeholders. Unequivocally confirming joint commitment to the principle of open competition and sporting merit across the continent, the common purpose has also been to sustain domestic leagues.

Commenting on the new format, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, said:

“This new format supports the status and future of the domestic game throughout Europe as well. It retains the principle that domestic performance should be the key to qualification and reconfirms the principles of solidarity right through the game and of open competition.

“This evolved format will still keep alive the dream of any team in Europe to participate in the UEFA Champions League thanks to results obtained on the pitch and it will enable long-term viability, prosperity, and growth for everyone in European football, not just a tiny, self-selected cartel.

“Football is a social and cultural treasure, enriched with values, traditions and emotions shared across our continent. As the governing body and responsible stewards of the European game, it is UEFA’s role to safeguard this legacy while leading positive future development of football in Europe for national associations, leagues, clubs, players, and fans at every level. This is why we had an extensive consultation process over the last two years which led to the unanimous backing of our proposal and we are convinced that these reforms achieve those objectives”.

Further decisions regarding matters such as the rebalancing of the access list, match dates, seeding system, format for the finals, coefficients and financial distribution will be made by the end of the year and potential adjustments to the format approved today could still be made if necessary.

At the same time, UEFA will also reaffirm its strong financial commitment to the whole of European football and initiate steps to ensure that greater financial solidarity will be delivered to a wider spectrum of clubs who do not participate in UEFA club competitions. This will reinforce the solid foundation on which the game in Europe is built.

UEFA will also open a dialogue with all relevant stakeholders with a view to proposing safeguards and protections for players’ health across competitions at all levels.

Format details

Taking the total number of teams from 32 to 36 in the UEFA Champions League, the biggest change will see a transformation from the traditional group stage to a single league stage including all participating teams. Every club will now be guaranteed a minimum of 10 league stage games against 10 different opponents (five home games, five away) rather than the previous six matches against three teams, played on a home and away basis.

The top eight sides in the league will qualify automatically for the knockout stage, while the teams finishing in ninth to 24th place will compete in a two-legged play-off to secure their path to the last 16 of the competition.

Similar format changes will also be applied to the UEFA Europa League (8 matches in the league stage) and UEFA Europa Conference League (6 matches in the league stage). Subject to further discussions and agreements, these two competitions may also be expanded to a total of 36 teams each in the league stage.

Qualification for the UEFA Champions League will continue to be open and earned through a team’s performance in domestic competitions.

One of the additional places will go to the club ranked third in the championship of the association in fifth position in the UEFA national association ranking. Another will be awarded to a domestic champion by extending from four to five the number of clubs qualifying via the so-called “Champions Path”.

The final two places will go to the clubs with the highest club coefficient over the last five years that have not qualified for the Champions League group stage but have qualified either for the Champions League qualification phase, the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.

All games before the final will still be played midweek, recognising the importance of the domestic calendar of games across Europe.

Published: 19/04/2021 by Radio NewsHub

UEFA announces new format for club competitions
The UEFA Executive Committee today approved a new format for its club competitions as of the 2024/25 season.
The reforms come after an extensive consultation across the football family and received unanimous backing from the ECA Board and the UEFA Club Competitions Committee (made of a majority of club representatives) last Friday.

The changes made are designed to secure the positive future of European football at every level and meet the evolving needs of all its stakeholders. Unequivocally confirming joint commitment to the principle of open competition and sporting merit across the continent, the common purpose has also been to sustain domestic leagues.

Commenting on the new format, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, said:

“This new format supports the status and future of the domestic game throughout Europe as well. It retains the principle that domestic performance should be the key to qualification and reconfirms the principles of solidarity right through the game and of open competition.

“This evolved format will still keep alive the dream of any team in Europe to participate in the UEFA Champions League thanks to results obtained on the pitch and it will enable long-term viability, prosperity, and growth for everyone in European football, not just a tiny, self-selected cartel.

“Football is a social and cultural treasure, enriched with values, traditions and emotions shared across our continent. As the governing body and responsible stewards of the European game, it is UEFA’s role to safeguard this legacy while leading positive future development of football in Europe for national associations, leagues, clubs, players, and fans at every level. This is why we had an extensive consultation process over the last two years which led to the unanimous backing of our proposal and we are convinced that these reforms achieve those objectives”.

Further decisions regarding matters such as the rebalancing of the access list, match dates, seeding system, format for the finals, coefficients and financial distribution will be made by the end of the year and potential adjustments to the format approved today could still be made if necessary.

At the same time, UEFA will also reaffirm its strong financial commitment to the whole of European football and initiate steps to ensure that greater financial solidarity will be delivered to a wider spectrum of clubs who do not participate in UEFA club competitions. This will reinforce the solid foundation on which the game in Europe is built.

UEFA will also open a dialogue with all relevant stakeholders with a view to proposing safeguards and protections for players’ health across competitions at all levels.

Format details

Taking the total number of teams from 32 to 36 in the UEFA Champions League, the biggest change will see a transformation from the traditional group stage to a single league stage including all participating teams. Every club will now be guaranteed a minimum of 10 league stage games against 10 different opponents (five home games, five away) rather than the previous six matches against three teams, played on a home and away basis.

The top eight sides in the league will qualify automatically for the knockout stage, while the teams finishing in ninth to 24th place will compete in a two-legged play-off to secure their path to the last 16 of the competition.

Similar format changes will also be applied to the UEFA Europa League (8 matches in the league stage) and UEFA Europa Conference League (6 matches in the league stage). Subject to further discussions and agreements, these two competitions may also be expanded to a total of 36 teams each in the league stage.

Qualification for the UEFA Champions League will continue to be open and earned through a team’s performance in domestic competitions.

One of the additional places will go to the club ranked third in the championship of the association in fifth position in the UEFA national association ranking. Another will be awarded to a domestic champion by extending from four to five the number of clubs qualifying via the so-called “Champions Path”.

The final two places will go to the clubs with the highest club coefficient over the last five years that have not qualified for the Champions League group stage but have qualified either for the Champions League qualification phase, the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.

All games before the final will still be played midweek, recognising the importance of the domestic calendar of games across Europe.

Published: 19/04/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Royal Navy keeps watch over seven Russian warships in English Channel
Royal Navy patrol ships have been keeping watch on seven Russian warships as they pass through the English Channel.
Portsmouth-based ships HMS Tyne, Severn and Mersey have been monitoring the Russian Federation navy vessels as they sailed closed to the UK.

They also tracked a surfaced Algerian submarine as it travelled back to its north African home.

HMS Mersey met up with a trio of vessels – frigate Admiral Kasatonov, a supporting tug Nikolay Chiker and tanker Vyazma – off Ushant in France and stayed with them through the Channel and Dover Strait and into the North Sea.

A Navy spokesman said: “Her monitoring mission was made more challenging by adverse weather conditions such as high winds and large sea states which meant the Russian ships took longer than usual to pass through as they sheltered in more confined waters before resuming their journey.

“HMS Mersey’s ship’s company worked around the clock to ensure that the three Russian ships passed the area safely.”

Published: 19/04/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Theyll join three Spanish and three Italian clubs in the new competition, which has been widely criticised.

Blossoms to headline gig without social distancing in pilot event
The live concert at Sefton Park in Liverpool on May 2 will also feature The Lathums and Liverpool singer-songwriter Zuzu.

The audience will not be required to be socially distanced, but attendees will have to provide proof of a coronavirus negative test before gaining entry, ministers have confirmed.

As the event is part of a scientific experiment, tickets can only be purchased by Liverpool City Region residents.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he hoped the Events Research Programme (ERP) test event, being held in the city famous for The Beatles and other musical heavyweights, meant the wait for gigs to return would not be “too much longer”.

Operating slightly below its capacity of 7,500, researchers on site will examine the movements and behaviour of the 5,000-strong crowd at Sefton Park next month.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the audience will not be socially distanced or required to wear face coverings in the controlled setting of the test event, meaning gig-goers will be able to enjoy the experience without physical restraints.

All attendees must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test result beforehand and will also be asked to take a test after the event, as ministers and scientists look to assess the safety of outdoor settings for masses of people not wearing face masks.

Ticket-holders will be required to take a lateral flow test, which can produce a result within 30 minutes, at a local testing centre before entry, to trial the role such facilities could play in the return of large-scale events, officials said.

The gig-goers will also have to provide contact details for NHS Test and Trace to ensure everyone can be reached in the event of a positive test.

Cabinet minister Mr Dowden said: “We’re one step closer to a summer of live events now our science-led programme is under way.

“Testing different settings and looking at different mitigations is key to getting crowds back safely.

“The Sefton Park pilot is an important addition to the programme… I hope it won’t be too much longer until gigs are back for good.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the results from the event would “inform our approach to ensuring future big events can take place safely”.

“By trialling a range of measures to reduce transmission, we are able to gather vital evidence to inform our plans for allowing events in the future,” he said.

“I am hugely grateful to scientists and clinicians working hard across the country so we can start to enjoy these events again safely.”

The event will be organised by music promoter Festival Republic in partnership with Culture Liverpool.

Claire McColgan, director of Culture Liverpool, said: “We should all be proud of the fact we’re part of this brave endeavour which looks to get this vital sector back up and running and resilient once again.”

Greg Parmley, chief executive of Live, the UK’s live music industry body, said: “The addition of an outdoor music event in the line-up of ERP pilot shows is a hugely positive development and brings the summer festival season one step closer.”

The first event as part of the scientific trial began on Saturday with the World Snooker Championships.

The Championships are due to run until May 3, welcoming up to 1,000 spectators a day to the Sheffield Crucible Theatre to test an indoor seated setting.

The FA Cup semi-final between Leicester City and Southampton on Sunday will host an audience of 4,000.

The information gathered from events as part of the Events Research Programme will be crucial to how all venues – from major sport stadiums and theatres to wedding venues, conference centres and nightclubs – could operate safely this summer, DCMS said.

Published: 18/04/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Damian Lewis praises wife Helen McCrory who was ‘a meteor in our life’
Actor Damian Lewis has paid tribute to his wife Helen McCrory, describing her as “a meteor in our life”, following her death at the age of 52.
The actress was best known for playing powerful women such as Shelby family matriarch Aunt Polly in the BBC gang drama Peaky Blinders, Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films and the home secretary in James Bond film Skyfall.

Lewis said his wife had “lived by the principle of kindness and generosity” and always took an interest in others and “made them feel special”.

Writing in the Sunday Times, he said: “I’ve never known anyone so consciously spread happiness.

“Even when dying in her last few days, when talking to our wonderful carers, she repeatedly said, ‘thank you so much’ in her half-delirious state.

“She always asked people how they were, always took an interest, made each person she met feel special, as though they were the only person in the room.

“Gave them her full attention.

“Made them laugh, always. There were few funnier people — she was funny as hell.”

Lewis said that in the weeks before her death his wife had joked about his future relationships with women, saying that “love isn’t possessive”.

“She said to us from her bed, ‘I want Daddy to have girlfriends, lots of them, you must all love again, love isn’t possessive, but you know, Damian, try at least to get though the funeral without snogging someone’,” he said.

He said that McCrory was “not interested in navel-gazing (or) self-reflection”, and passed her positivity on to others.

“Helen believed you choose happiness,” he said.

“I’ve never known anyone able to enjoy life as much.

“Her ability to be in the present and enjoy the moment was inspirational.

“Nor was she interested in navel-gazing. No real interest in self-reflection; she believed in looking out, not in.

“Which is why she was able to turn her light so brightly on others.”

McCrory was born in Paddington, London, to a Welsh mother and Scottish father, and was the eldest of three children.

She attended school in Hertfordshire, then spent a year living in Italy, before returning to London to study acting at the Drama Centre.

She has been a regular figure in prestige TV dramas, including the ITV hit Quiz, the BBC political series Roadkill, psychological thriller MotherFatherSon and the adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

She was made an OBE in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to drama.

Lewis said that his wife was “fiercely proud” of her career as an actress and approached it with “a rigour, an honesty and an intelligence that made others rise to meet her”.

He said she was seen as “royalty” within the industry and was nicknamed “Dame Helen” by many.

“Although we’ll never know now whether that would have become a reality, I think secretly, we do know,” he said.

McCrory and Lewis married in 2007 and share a daughter Manon, born in 2006, and son Gulliver, born in 2007.

Lewis said his wife had been “utterly heroic” in her illness and told her children repeatedly she had “lived the life I wanted to”.

“She has exhorted us to be courageous and not afraid,” he said.

“She has been utterly heroic in her illness. Funny, of course — generous, brave, uncomplaining, constantly reminding us all of how lucky we’ve been, how blessed we are.”

He added that McCrory’s “most exquisite act of bravery and generosity” had been to “normalise” her death.

“She’s shown no fear, no bitterness, no self-pity, only armed us with the courage to go on and insisted that no one be sad, because she is happy,” he said.

“I’m staggered by her. She’s been a meteor in our life.”

Published: 18/04/2021 by Radio NewsHub

People with disabilities report ‘struggle’ to move around outdoor seating areas
People with disabilities have described “significant problems” navigating street furniture after cafes and restaurants reopened for outdoor customers.
New measures came into force in England last Monday as part of the easing of lockdown, meaning hospitality venues can now serve customers outdoors.

But some of the measures put in place to ensure social distancing is maintained, including the use of tables and chairs on pavements, risk making accessibility difficult.

Maureen Goodall, 50, who lives in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, is severely sight-impaired and uses a white cane. She said she feels “ignored” on the issue of accessibility.

She told the PA news agency: “My main problem at the moment is the increase of street furniture. It is very difficult to negotiate round it as well as keeping socially distanced from people.

“I wish Boris Johnson could meet some visually impaired people so we could explain how difficult it is for us at the moment. Sadly we seem to be ignored and don’t have a voice loud enough for people to hear our daily struggles.

“Social distancing has become a problem because people are either not seeing my stick or just not getting out of my way, so I’m bumping into more people again, which is getting a little bit frustrating because for the last few months I’ve been used to the paths all by myself.

“Even walking through King’s Cross yesterday I was pushed and shoved a little bit which I haven’t had for months. It’s all a little bit daunting again.

“I was able to cope with it better (pre-pandemic) because I didn’t have to be aware that everybody has to be two metres apart. Now, I’m very conscious of that.

“It’s not just me that’s struggling, I’ve got a friend that’s in an electric chair and she’s saying the same thing. The queues, the street furniture, the tables, the chairs. When somebody’s guiding me there’s just not enough room for us to walk safely side-by-side.”

Alan Benson, chair of Transport for All, an organisation that aims to improve transport accessibility for disabled people, said the reopening of society must be “inclusive of everybody”.

He said fencing off areas with tables and chairs, and making sure the pavement is wide enough for wheelchairs, could be a way of making areas more accessible.

Mr Benson, 51, told PA: “I’m a wheelchair user, so it’s something that I’m certainly well aware of.

“Soho is a particular issue because it’s quite inaccessible as it is, so you often get missing dropped curbs. You’ll get to a corner, want to cross the road and can’t, so when you put all this new Covid outdoor dining street furniture all over the place, that then adds on top of what’s already an inaccessible street-scape.

“Today is my 400th day of shielding, so essentially I’ve not been out in 400 days, so I’m really looking forward to getting out and enjoying some of this opening up.

“It’s not that we’re trying to stop people enjoying themselves, we want to get out probably even more than they do, but we do want it to be accessible, it’s got to be inclusive of everybody.”

Fazilet Hadi, head of policy at Disability Rights UK, said: “Since the Government relaxed rules on pavement dining… wheelchair users, people with mobility impairments and those with sight loss have all experienced significant problems.

“It is important that councils consult with their disabled residents before granting permission, that the boundary of the eating area is clearly defined and that there is enough space for a wheelchair user to safely pass by.”

Mr Benson added that “consideration” of disabled people on pavements could help with accessibility.

He told PA: “It’s an issue for both wheelchair users and if you’re blind or partially sighted, things that you use like curbs and edges of buildings to guide yourself, if you put tables and chairs in the way, people walk into them.

“The issue is that people just aren’t used to thinking about it… but we really need your help, your support, and your consideration.”

Published: 18/04/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Peloton treadmill should not be used by those with children or pets – US regulator
The US safety regulator has warned those with children and pets to immediately stop using a treadmill made by Peloton after one child died and others were injured.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Saturday that it had received reports of children and a pet being pulled, pinned and entrapped under the rear roller of the treadmill.

The results have included fractures, scrapes and the death of one child.

New York-based Peloton said in a news release the warning was “inaccurate and misleading”.

It added there was no reason to stop using the treadmill as long as children and pets are kept away from it, it is turned off when not in use and its safety key is removed.

Sales of Peloton equipment have soared during the pandemic as virus-weary people avoid gyms and work out at home instead.

The company brought in 1 billion dollars (£720 million) in revenue in the last three months of 2020, more than double its revenue from the same period a year before.

Published: 18/04/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Fans welcomed back to live sport in lockdown easing test case
Thousands of fans are returning to Wembley Stadium on Sunday as part of a Government programme to ensure the safe return of live entertainment.
FA Cup semi-final spectators will be part of a large research project looking at how fans and audiences can safely attend events again, with music events to follow in the coming weeks.

Along with the World Snooker Championship, which started on Saturday, the pilots will be part of the UK Government’s science-led Events Research Programme (ERP).

It comes after non-essential shops reopened on Monday along with outdoor hospitality, gyms and hair and beauty services.

The FA Cup semi-final between Leicester City and Southampton on Sunday will host an audience of 4,000.

While the snooker at the indoor Sheffield Crucible Theatre will operate at the socially distanced capacity of about 325 for the first few days.

The intention for both Wembley and the snooker is to steadily reduce social distancing and increase capacities over the course of the research programme.

In Sheffield, after the first few days it will move to 50% present capacity and then move towards 100% capacity of around 1,000 over the course of the 17-day tournament.

The FA Cup final at Wembley on May 15 will see 21,000 people in attendance.

Other events, such as those taking place at the Circus Nightclub in Liverpool on April 30, will not have social-distancing measures in place, but will operate at a reduced capacity.

But before attending any of the events, spectators will have to test negative for coronavirus in a lateral flow test (LFT)- supervised where possible – taken in the previous 36 hours.

And after attending the occasion, they will be asked to conduct a PCR coronavirus swab test.

Professor Iain Buchan, executive dean, Institute of Population Health, chairman of public health and clinical informatics, faculty of health and life Sciences, University of Liverpool, explained that only those who consent to taking part in the study will be able to attend.

Explaining the process, he said: “So what will happen? You will see an advert for the event via some media.

“At the Liverpool events we have arranged for people looking at those adverts to immediately go to the site that explains the event research programme, where they will give their consent if they wish to go further, consent will be recorded, people will be informed about what they’re likely to be asked.

“And they’ll start going through questionnaires online.

“That will give them a token to then book a ticket and part of activating your ticket will then be getting a test within 36 hours before the event.

“People may receive text messages by phone as well, to say ‘have you got any symptoms on the day of the event and if so, you shouldn’t go’.

“Five days after the event, those who have become part of this research study will be asked to take a swab up their nose at home, and they’ll be asked the questions as well that will be triggered probably by text message.

“It will vary between the different events, but this is very much an ethically thought through careful science led programme that we’ll be pursuing.”

Prof Buchan said many of the events will be safer than mixing happening in other settings, as people will have been tested beforehand, and encouraged to limit their contact with others before and after.

He added that local public health services will receive data very quickly on any potential outbreaks and be able to trace and contain them.

The risk is the equivalent to “about one in several thousand people” and based on the current background rates of infection “that is likely to be quite rare”, Prof Buchan explained.

He continued: “The main thing we want to do is make sure that those mechanisms are in place, so if rates do rise, say for example in July, that we have a very, very effective safety net, and we can decide whether or not to go ahead with particular events, vary in the spacing, the choice of venues to licence more of the outdoor venues with lots of fresh air.”

Venues participating in the programme will test specific settings to collect evidence and best practice.

The programme will explore how different approaches to social distancing, ventilation and test-on-entry protocols could ease opening and maximise participation in these sectors in the future.

The findings will be used to provide key scientific data and research into how small and large-scale events could safely reopen in line with the road map out of lockdown – particularly step four which is due to commence no earlier than June 21.

As part of the programme, Covid-status certification will also be trialled.

Published: 18/04/2021 by Radio NewsHub


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