A “League of Nations” competition intended as a third major tournament for European countries after the World Cup and European Championship has been given the go-ahead by UEFA.

The competition, which starts in September 2018, will feature promotion and relegation, will see a winning team every odd year and will replace most international friendlies. It will also provide 4 qualifying sports for the Euro 2020 finals.

The tournament will feature pool matches played between September and November 2018 and the ‘final four’ competition for each division played in 2019.

The opportunity to qualify for the European Championships is intended to make the League of Nations competitive.

“Twenty teams will advance from the qualifying competition to the Euro 2020 finals – which are being played in 13 cities around Europe,” UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino told delegates at the authority’s Congress in Kazakhstan on Thursday.

“That leaves four extra slots to be filled and they will come from four teams from the Nations League who have not otherwise qualified.”

The impetus for the new competition came from a desire from the member nations to revitalise  international football whilst simultaneously finding an alternative to friendly matches.

So, meaningless friendly matches are set to become a thing of the past, to be replaced by…equally meaningless competitive matches.

“We accept and respect that all UEFA member associations have agreed to create a new competition,” said Wolfgang Niersbach, chairman of the National Teams Competition Committee. “This is a big step for national teams in Europe and we hope that fans will support the new format.”

While matches will be played on dates reserved for friendlies, there will still be flexibility for smaller countries to arrange high-profile fixtures with bigger European teams and for nations to play friendlies against national sides from outside Europe.