UEFA has issued an update on next season’s Europa League and used West Ham United as the poster boys.

West Ham will compete in Europa League group stage football for the first time after their record-breaking Premier League season.

David Moyes’s side finished just one win off claiming a Champions League spot.

But qualifying for the completely revamped Europa League is still a fantastic achievement for West Ham.

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New and improved Europa League packed full of quality and should excite West Ham fans

Some still look down on the Europa League as a hindrance to a club’s Premier League hopes.

The long format with 48 teams in the group stages has in the past made for a gruelling campaign.

Especially when some – like West Ham in previous seasons – have had to start the season early to take part in qualifying.

The new and improved Europa League will see the group stage significantly reduced from 48 to 32 teams. And the number of teams participating in qualifying is also reduced significantly.

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UEFA issues comprehensive Europa League update on teams, seedings and more and uses West Ham as the poster boys

The first round of the knockout phase also now involves only the group stage runners-up and the Champions League third-placed teams, with the group winners directly advancing to the round of 16.

And of course the competition carries the ultimate incentive, qualification for the following season’s Champions League.

Now UEFA has issued an update on the competition. And the governing body has used West Ham star Tomas Soucek as the picture with their release.

“The line-up for the 2021/22 group stage is coming together (starry eyes emoji),” UEFA posted on Twitter alongside a list of the 12 confirmed teams so far.

They are Braga, Frankfurt, Lazio, Leicester, Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moskva, Lyon, Marseille, Napoli, Real Betis, Real Sociedad and of course West Ham.

West Ham United v Southampton - Premier League
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Hammers have third lowest coefficient of the 12 qualified teams but should have 9th highest overall

UEFA’s comprehensive update, which you can read in full here, explains how the remaining spots will be decided.

And it also explains how the seedings work for the group stage draw as teams will be divided into four pots based on their UEFA club coefficients.

Of the 12 teams qualified so far, West Ham have the third lowest (9th) coefficient with 20.113 – but will likely therefore be in the top 10 seeded teams overall come the draw.

This is when West Ham will find out their Europa League group opponents as next season’s toughest fixtures instantly become clear.

In other West Ham news, Stuart Pearce believes Declan Rice ‘loves driving the club forward’ and has everything he needs at the London Stadium right now after fresh speculation over his future.

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