By Tony Attwood
We are currently six points and three places below sixth position in the Premier League – and sixth, although not a trophy does mean entry to the Europa League. We might also win this year’s Europa League which would give access to the Europa League.
But there are two other ways of gaining admission to the Europa, and the benefits that brings. I’ll deal with the benefits in a mo, but first how to get into the Europa.
If the winners of the FA Cup and/or League Cup finish in the top four then their places in the Europa League are taken by the next highest placed finishers in the Premier League table who have not already qualified for Europe.
In the FA Cup that means Southampton, Manchester City, Leicester City and Chelsea, and I would guess that Manchester City, currently 14 points clear, are going to win the league and cup double. Failing that it will be Leicester or Chelsea.
In the League Cup that means Tottenham Hots v Manchester City in the final. If Manchester City win, I can’t see any reg as to what happens. The Hots might get the place. If not maybe the next club in the League table. If not, it presumably is a lost place.
Here’s the league table as of now.
|5||West Ham United||Euro||29||14||7||8||45||35||10||49|
The “Euro?” column indicates which competition the clubs would go into. Liverpool get a place in the Europa League by virtue of a top four team winning the FA Cup, and Everton get the last place because of a Champs League team winning the League Cup.
Now suddenly this looks slightly more viable, if we can keep winning games. and just creep up at least one place, but preferably two. Not a very elegant way in but still possible. Of course it does mean us winning while someone else is failing, which is why I keep looking at the last six matches table. Here it is as it stands on the afternoon of 22 March.
|7||West Ham United||6||3||1||2||11||7||4||10|
|11||Brighton & Hove||6||2||1||3||7||6||1||7|
|15||West Bromwich Albs||6||1||3||2||2||3||-1||6|
On this basis we will overtake Liverpool! and maybe Everton, and so just scramble in. Hardly elegant but we could do it.
And I imagine the club wants us to do it. Failure to play in the Europa would mean less income for the club, which would mean more cuts, and more redundancies, less money for transfers, more sales and fewer players wanting to come to us.
Other good players will want to leave to gain exposure of European football, youngsters will want to leave because the Europa games give the every chance of exposure in the group stage, and only playing in the Premier League means all we get are PGMO referees, rather than the experience of a different style of refereeing in Europe.
We will also get less press coverage, and there will be a dramatic decline in people taking up season tickets, which will encourage the owners to put the prices up and sell off more players.
But worst of all, given all the “Fourth is not a trophy” fuss we had when ending second, third and fourth, and the snarling against Mr Wenger when he took us to fifth and sixth, can you imagine what the plane flyers and cardboard carriers of Black Flag, AFTV and the like will get up to with their journalist friends.
The chances of signing real talent of any age will go right out the window. I really do think we need that extra place.
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