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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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FA concerned about Europa League

England's Football Association wants UEFA and Europe's clubs to take a hard look at the format of the Europa League and cut it down to size from its bloated format.

• UEFA to reduce friendly calendar

The FA is concerned that the combined force of the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) and the European Club Association (ECA) are fighting vigorously for an end to international friendlies, or at least a minimum number, yet are happy to allow the Europa League to remain in its current elongated format.

Michel Platini's organisation has already agreed to cut the much-criticised August friendlies from the international calendar, with national teams set to play only double-headers over a two-year cycle, though the number of them is yet to be determined.

However, with clubs, managers and leagues ridiculing "meaningless friendlies" in the international game, the FA is questioning the need for so many Europa League ties - notably qualifiers that start long before the actual season kicks off. Fulham began their campaign on June 30.

An FA insider told ESPNsoccernet: "It might sound a good argument from managers and clubs that there are too many friendlies, that their players are over-burdened, but then they should look at the amount of games in the Europa League."

The FA's standpoint is that the international friendlies provide revenue and the opportunity to prepare for competitive fixtures, and the source added: "We can see this is all about the big clubs stamping their feet, but there needs to be a policy for the good of all, not just one group."

Harry Harris' new book: 19: The Remarkable Story of United's League Championship Record is available now.

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