The New Saints chief operating officer Ian Williams spent time with Europe's top clubs this week when he attended the 21st European Club Association (ECA) General Assembly in Croatia.

The conference, held in Split, saw clubs come together to discuss changes to club licences and the Financial Fair Play Regulations as well as the much-publicised proposed changes to European competitions.

Saints believe the changes, proposed from 2021 onwards, could give them a greater opportunity to qualify for the group stages, a dream which has so far eluded them.

"Clubs were provided with an update on on-going discussions between ECA and UEFA relating to the future of the UEFA Europa League post-2021 and possible changes that may be introduced to the competition," Mr Williams told the club's website.

"Following demands by ECA members to increase the overall number of clubs participating in UEFA’s club competitions, the preferred option is to develop a third-tier competition of 32 teams, bringing the overall number of participants in UEFA’s club competitions to 96 with 32 participating teams per competition.

"A determining factor in reaching this position was the need to enhance the overall value of the competitions. "Following the update, ECA members were provided with an opportunity to share their feedback and opinions with Executive Board members.

"Further discussions will take place between ECA and UEFA, with a final decision on the future of UEFA’s Club Competitions expected to be reached before the end of the year."

The news comes after recent reports of plans by UEFA to launch a third European competition, which could see the return of the popular European Cup Winners Cup.

The conference also provided an update on the future of the transfer system.