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The Mail Bag

Another Champions League fix?

Comments (19)

According to Sky the other day (and Clive Tyldesley no less) the draw for the Champions League qualifying round is no longer seeded and any team can be drawn against any other. To them this raised the awful prospect that Arsenal might not make it to the lucrative group stage if they had to play the likes of Valencia or Lyon.

It struck me as strange that Uefa would not seed this draw when they seem to do it for every other round up to and including the group stage. I looked into it and discovered that they were wrong but the truth was even worse ? especially for a club like Everton.

There are now effectively two qualifying rounds to get into the group stage, running in parallel. Five clubs will qualify from the 'Champions' qualifying round and another five from the 'non-Champions'. Paradoxically, the 'Champions' are in the weaker side of the draw as they are all from the weaker football nations whereas the 'non-Champions', including Arsenal, are all from the stronger nations.

The draw is seeded and Arsenal will get one of the five unseeded clubs. It is undoubtedly more difficult for them than the old system but they should still get a relatively weak opponent.

On the other hand, what would be our position if we did make it to fourth place next season? We would almost certainly be an UNSEEDED team and as such, we are bound to be drawn against one of only five teams all of which will be from the strong European leagues. I know it would not be impossible but the prospect of another Villarreal is very much on the cards.

To my mind this is yet another way in which Uefa attempts to keep the shop closed to up-and-coming clubs like Everton. It makes it all the more important to have a good run in the Europa League so that we just might be seeded when the time comes.
Phil Guyers, Maghull     Posted 12/05/2009 at 14:04:30

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Graham Holliday
1   Posted 12/05/2009 at 18:00:27

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I think it can be seen as an attempt to get more league champions into the CL group stages, so is in that respect commendable.

It’s a shame for us because as you mention if we were to finish 4th, we’d still have some work to do to reach the group stages but I’m not sure about the conspiracy theory you’ve concocted to be honest!
Brett Bradshaw
2   Posted 12/05/2009 at 19:07:12

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If they want more League Champions in the group stage, they could say, only let Champions play in the Champions League... or is that a bit silly?

Failing that, you could have League Champions gaining automatic qualification to the group stage.

The rich get richer...
Keith Glazzard
3   Posted 12/05/2009 at 18:55:19

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A complex issue ? Platini and mates think that the four biggest spenders shouldn?t be able to buy the ?European Cup?. This has got nothing to do with us.

The article I read in the Guardian today laid out much of the detail ? I can?t take in that much information anymore ? but David Hynter did guess that the Arse probably won?t face Lyon ? but might meet eg Valencia, Celtic or Fiorentina. They would obviously do much better than us against the Italians ? did someone on Sky say that?

Martin O?Neill is quoted today saying that the Europa League format, quite rightly, needs a trim. To support his case he says that fixture overload leads to Manchester United going to an FA Cup semi-final "and play with a weakened side". A wonderful combination of sour grapes and arse-licking.
Phil Guyers
4   Posted 12/05/2009 at 19:58:00

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I agree that the main motivation behind the changes is to get more actual ’Champions’ in the group phase and that this is commendable.

However, someone has to pay the price for improving the chances of clubs from weaker nations and it is just our luck that we are the type of club to suffer. A club like Hertha Berlin are similar to us in this respect and it will be interesting to see if they can get through the qualifying round if they get there.
Joe Davis
5   Posted 12/05/2009 at 20:42:11

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They must have fancied our chances of finishing fourth this season when they concocted that.
James Bowman
6   Posted 12/05/2009 at 21:06:03

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Seems silly that because a league is valued less then those league champions have to qualify. Then we have the likes of the RS who can win the CL without being Champions in a very long time! They all complain about the amount of games, so just take the non-champions out and then there will be less games to play!! Simple!!

The lesser leagues will surely improve as all the money won't be going to the usual suspects. Plus it would slow down the glory hunting players as there would be a lot less clubs in the CL and I guess not so many teams would be able to use the draw of regular CL football. It would stop the false feeling of achievement and put the emphasis back on actually winning the league.

James Boden
7   Posted 12/05/2009 at 21:49:03

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"If they want more league champions in the group stage they could say, only let champions play in the champions league.. or is that a bit silly?"

Brett Bradshaw, you have saved time for me ? thanks.

Andy Cooper
8   Posted 12/05/2009 at 22:00:52

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Sorry to go off thread, but thought my fellow blues would like to know if any of you are waiting to find out if you have been succesful in getting a Wembley ticket, if you check the OS under e-ticketing and click on purchase history, it gives you your seat number for the final. COYB
Micky Norman
9   Posted 12/05/2009 at 21:56:00

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How?s about this idea to make all European football more competitive....

Only the champions of each country go into the Champions League which could be played as a KO competitition from the start. Teams placed 2, 3, 4 and 5 + cup winners go into a second competition which would be very strong and could also be a KO competition from the start.

No seeding anywhere and no rules about playing teams from your own country. I think this would make for really exciting football and would break the monopoly of the rich clubs. I?ve sent this exciting futuristic idea to M Platini...

Dennis Stevens
10   Posted 12/05/2009 at 22:17:07

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The only way they?ll get a substantial change to CL format is to compensate those clubs that are affected - super parachute payments!

The new Uefa Cup format was a lost a opportunity to remove the CL drop-outs & so slim down & improve the competition, partly by not treating it as a consolation prize.

Mike Jovic
11   Posted 12/05/2009 at 22:33:34

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The problem with European football is all the money is in the Champions League. As such it is very difficult for teams such as ourslves to compete financially as the Uefa Cup offers little financial reward.

My idea, for what it's worth ? We start with on one European competition instead of two. 16 groups of 4 with each team playing home and away ? effectively the same teams would compete in this as would be in a combination of the Champions League and Uefa Cup.

At the end of the group stage, the top team in each group goes into the last 16 of the ?Champions League?. The next 2 placed teams in each league go into the last 32 of the ?Uefa Cup?.

This way you retain the two European competitions but the money is more evenly distributed because the TV rights and sponsorship money is split amongst all the competing clubs.

Just an idea...
Alex Kociuba
12   Posted 12/05/2009 at 23:42:27

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Its simple really, if we beat the teams put in front of us then we’ll do well. It doesn’t matter who it is you still need to beat them.

Some Evertonians starting to sound like stereotypical moaning kopites.
John Dybvad
13   Posted 13/05/2009 at 09:02:27

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Mick Norman,

I like your idea. What about we do that, but we make yet another competition for the Cup winners? We could call it the Cup Winners Trophy or something similar. We could have three European competitions, all knock-out affairs. Then again, maybe there is something wrong somewhere with this? We should just leave ’them’ to work it out. They’re just so much cleverer than we are.
Brian Waring
14   Posted 13/05/2009 at 18:38:18

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Thats why Uefa changed it. They looked at us, and thought, "Hang on a minute, that Everton side could reach the Champions League this season... we need to do something about it so they don?t get too far. I know, let's change the set-up so it would hinder them from qualifying."

I must admit, you lads that say the prem, FA, the refs etc have it in for us, are spot on. Now where did I put the number for Mulder & Scully?
Tony Williams
15   Posted 14/05/2009 at 09:13:22

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Not a conspiracy theory but what angered me this season was that after a decent run in the Uefa Cup the season before with quite a lot of wins, that should therefore affect our coefficient, we end up gettiing the Belgian Champs in the qualifiers when Portsmouth, Citteh and the Spuds get some part-time farmers to play. These are teams who haven?t been near Europe in years yet get easier ties than us.

Also, I actually felt sorry for Liege, they win their league and get to play one of the favourites and then when bounced out to the Uefa Cup they have to play a team that was one of the strongest the season before, we even beat the eventual winners in our own mini-league.

No a conspiracy but very bad luck.
Alan Clarke
16   Posted 14/05/2009 at 09:30:40

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Arsenal will be joining us in the Europa next season as they’re utter shite and won’t get through their qualifying round.

I fully agree Tony Williams, how come Citeh, who got into Europe via the fair play league, got drawn against a part time Cypriat team and we get the Belgian champions? We finish 5th and qualify on merit and Citeh get in because they don’t make enough tackles. The year before we get Metalist who this season were unbeaten in the group stages. In saying that I doubt we’d be in the cup final had we played in Europe this season.
Mark Hill
17   Posted 14/05/2009 at 13:23:57

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I personally think the whole concept as it stands for the Champions League is completely ridiculous, sure the dividends for being there are for all to see, its mega bucks!

It?s simple in my eyes (or maybe that?s just me); the whole concept has been utterly devalued beyond belief, because the whole thing is/was about the Championship winning teams ? those that win the top league within their respective country.

Football has been ruined by the money men, who to all intents and purposes are now pulling the strings for football altogether.

So the whole idea of being able to reach the covetted group stages, where realistically most of the champions should end up, you have to play some no-marks, those that couldn?t bridge the gap from top 4 to winning the trophy, before the real Champions League takes place. Even then some of the non-champions still make it through, and in some cases actually go on and win the trophy which to me just doesn?t make any sense whatsoever.

I could rant all day about this, so I?ll stop now...!
Brian Baker
18   Posted 15/05/2009 at 08:00:54

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There is only one thing for it.....

We will just have to win the league title to ease our passage into the group stages!
Garry Martin
19   Posted 15/05/2009 at 08:33:51

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Phil - can?t really understand why we have a seeded / unseeded condition. Obviuosly as you say, bigger clubs raise more revenue. But, for me you are either good enough or not good enough to tread amongst the big boys.

On a different note, has anybody heard that Chelsea may be banned for next season's Champions League because of semi?s fuck up? This may & should give EFC the motivation to finish 5th, just in case ? you never know!!!

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