UEFA Nations League is announced

UEFA Nations League - Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales will be in 'B' competition

WITH THE GROUP stages of the 2018 World Cup qualifying complete, the line-ups for the inaugural Uefa Nations League have been confirmed.

If there are not four teams in any league to make up a play-off group - for instance all 12 teams in the top division would expect to qualify automatically - then the next ranked teams from lower tiers would move up.

It will also provide Ireland with a second chance to qualify for Euro 2020, if needed, with the four highest-ranked non-qualifying League B teams entering play-offs for one finals place in March 2020.

That means missing out on the potential for games against Germany, Italy, Spain and England, who are among the dozen teams to qualify for League A.

The competition which will effectively replace friendlies will run from September to November 2018.

The victor of each of the four groups will be drawn to face each other in a Euro 2020 play-off.

Instead that will be delayed, and start in March 2019 and end in November of that year - the qualifying draw does not take place until December 2018.

League B: Austria, Wales, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine, Republic of Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Turkey.

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Play-offs in four separate one-off mini-tournaments will find the four final participants in the competition.

Teams will be split into four groups of three, and will play the other group teams twice each. The winners of each group will be promoted to league above and the losers will be relegated.

Each league will have its own play-off competition with single-leg semi-final and final to decide who gets the final four places.

League C: Hungary, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, Greece, Serbia, Albania, Norway, Montenegro, Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania.

Division D: Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Georgia, Belarus, Armenia, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Malta, Kosovo, Andorra, San Marino and Gibraltar.

Teams will be split into one group of three and three groups of four.

Honestly, Pies had completely forgotten about the imminent implementation of the UEFA Nations League, which is basically UEFA's attempt to address the dwindling appetite for the surfeit of meaningless friendlies that now clog up the worldwide calendar.