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European Door Shut?

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What a cracking weekend - the sun was shining, the Grand National was actually quite exciting, and Everton stuffed Wolves away from home to close within 1 point of 6th and that other shower across the park.

Now... if we can keep it going and get more from Blackburn at home than they can muster vs Arsenal and City, this time next week we'll be looking down on Dogleash and co and with a great chance of securing a top 6 finish.

My question here though is, aside from a few extra quid for the Prem place and local bragging rights (not to be underestimated I realise), what will that actually mean?

My understanding was that European places were pretty much sorted now and that (assuming top 4 slots for CL and 3 places for Europa), 5th would be the lowest league slot to get a Europa place. The other 2 going to Carling Cup winners (Birmingham) and then the Winners/Runners Up of FA Cup (assuming Utd and City have their CL places, then that means one way or another it'd be Bolton or Stoke with the other).

With Spurs a comfortable distance clear in 5th, it's pretty clear that 6th is the best Everton and Liverpool can play for. However, I've now heard pundits (including those on Five Live and MotD) talk about us being in the hunt for Europe several times in the last week or two. Do they genuinely believe we have a chance of closing a 9+ point gap in 6 games or have I missed something here?

For my money, the only even faintly realistic route to Europe is through the Fair Play League (where the EPL currently looks likely to get a place), in which we're 7th overall but 3rd out of those who wouldn't get a place otherwise... behind Fulham and Blackpool.

In which case, perhaps we'd be best suited to stop trying to actually win games and concentrate instead on shaking hands, avoiding fouls and sucking up the ref for the remaining 6 games?
Chris James, London     Posted 10/04/2011 at 19:31:04

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Graham Holliday
1   Posted 10/04/2011 at 22:09:01

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Just lazy punditry/journalism... hardly surprising. But yes, we are basically playing for 6th.
Lee Courtliff
2   Posted 10/04/2011 at 22:09:54

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I thought the same as you. Then, just like you, I heard the same thing on the radio. To be honest... I am not all that excited about another season in the Europa League BUT I would love us to finish in the top 6 again. Especially at the expense of that lot.
Andrew James
3   Posted 10/04/2011 at 22:35:27

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We won't make Europe. Our patched up 11 would do well to take any points off Chelsea, City and Utd in the last 6 games. If we did, great as I for one like European competition and it increases investment in the summer (or maybe with our board, not so much).
Phil Guyers
4   Posted 10/04/2011 at 22:38:11

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As I understand it, the only way 6th place qualifies for Europe is if Man City win the Cup and finish 5th in the League.

This is because City would then be qualifying as Cup winners and the runners-up are irrelevant.
Robin Hunuki
5   Posted 10/04/2011 at 22:49:26

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I guess if that is the case (referring to Phil's comment), we'll unfortunately need Man City to lose to Liverpool in order for Spurs to get anywhere near taking 4th spot, therefore giving us a remote chance to take 6th spot (assuming the redshite drop many points in the remaining game). If only we could have taken more points earlier on in the season...
Andrew James
6   Posted 10/04/2011 at 22:55:27

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In my book, disappointing as this season has been, if we finish upwards from 8th, then it is an improvement. But I am concerned about the summer and next season.
Rob Hollis
7   Posted 10/04/2011 at 23:38:45

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I can't remember what the prize money is for Europa League but can remember thinking that it does not pay for the pressure it puts on the squad to play all the games required. Better to have a crack at the top four rather than waste breath on that competition. Or is the money better than I think it is?
Colin Gee
8   Posted 10/04/2011 at 23:51:40

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Phil #4
No so, if $ity win the Cup and finish 5th, then either Bolton or Stoke would qualify.

6th in the League doesn't qualify for Europe, it would have done if Arsenal had won the Carling Cup instead of Birmingham, then 6th would have got the last place.
Jamie Barlow
9   Posted 11/04/2011 at 00:23:56

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/europa-league/3023605/Back-door-route-into-Europe-is-shut-for-FA-Cup-final-losers-Football.html
Dennis Stevens
10   Posted 11/04/2011 at 00:38:34

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I didn't think the runners-up got the European place anymore & that if the Cup winners had already qualified for Europe then the spare place reverted to the League. If so, then 6th place suddenly becomes more than a matter of local bragging rights.
Kieran Kinsella
11   Posted 11/04/2011 at 01:35:24

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We don't deserve Europe but maybe we would if we had Shane Duffy back . http://www.bestbritishtv.com/?p=434
Eric Myles
12   Posted 11/04/2011 at 02:25:29

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Phil #4, I think you're right as the 'current' rules on the UEFA website still say that the cup runner-up gets a place if the winners already qualify by league placings.

Jamie #9, that article is from 2008 so either they didn't implement the change yet or they haven't updated their website.

But there is one other guaranteed way for the 6th place team to qualify for Europe... if the team name is Liverpool. I can just see it, UEFA claiming that indeed they did implement the change and forgot to update their rules.
Eric Myles
13   Posted 11/04/2011 at 02:37:49

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OOOPS, sorry, I'm not in agreement with Phil, I agree with Colin #8.
Jamie Crowley
14   Posted 11/04/2011 at 02:16:47

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According to Wiki:

If the FA Cup winners have already qualified for the UEFA Champions League, by Regulation 1.04), the runners-up qualify for the spot; if they have also qualified for the Champions League, the next highest league finisher not already qualified for Europe takes the place. In either of these cases, if the new club has a lower league finish than a club starting in an earlier round, the clubs will swap their starting rounds.

As neither Bolton or Stoke are going to qualify for the CL, it appears from the above whomever ends up in the final of the FA Cup will be going to Europe.

If this is correct, it's seriously a stupid, stupid rule. I understand the winners getting a European spot, but runners up?

Europe's not a realistic possibility. Time to hunt down the RS. Unless I'm wrong and Wiki (footnoted) is incorrect...
Matthew Lovekin
15   Posted 11/04/2011 at 07:16:02

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I would rather NOT be in the Europa League and concentrate on the PL next season. Less games and less (hopefully) injuries.

We would have to finish 5th to be in Europe next season and it's not gonna happen ? especially as we still have to play Utd, City and Chelsea.

To finish 6th this season would be amazing after the shitty season we have had. I'd still be happy to finish 7th after 38 games. It's been a disaster of a season and I just want it to finish. To do so in 7th would be very surprising.
Gavin Ramejkis
16   Posted 11/04/2011 at 07:54:53

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Rob #7 ? the Europa in comparison to the Champions League pays buttons but it does provide something very important and that's exposure to playing against European sides, including those that drop out of the Champions League.

But also it increase the club's European rating; the more we play the less likely we are to be drawn again decent opposition early doors for a quick exit. We've got no chance of qualifying this season.

Afzan Yusuf
17   Posted 11/04/2011 at 08:09:11

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European place nearly shut.. and Yes... 6th the realistic target. Another season to forget...
Trevor Lynes
18   Posted 11/04/2011 at 09:48:23

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We do not have a squad strong enough to be competitive in Europe. Not enough cover throughout the side of any class. We are doing really well to be able to survive in the Premier League and if I end my days without seeing us relegated then I will be happy!

We were last relegated in 1950 and I remember it only too well. Since 1953, we have always played in the top tier of football, which is 58 years and climbing.

Unfortunately, the way things are money wise, I cannot see us winning any trophies short term. I just hope that the old adage of 'every dog has its day' will return and favour EFC.

Eric Myles
19   Posted 11/04/2011 at 09:56:48

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Phil #4, you're almost right. I reckon if City win the FA Cup and finish fourth then their FA Cup Europa place will go to 6th place as they are already in the CL.
Ian Smitham
20   Posted 11/04/2011 at 09:55:23

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Eric #12-last line, fantastic !!!
Eric Myles
21   Posted 11/04/2011 at 10:03:13

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Strike my post #19, must have been a brain fart, the cup runners up will of course take the place as I said before.

Gotta stop letting work interfere with concentration on my footy!
Phil Guyers
22   Posted 11/04/2011 at 09:51:53

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The relevant Article from the Europa League regulations is as follows:-

2.02 UEFA member associations are represented on the following basis:
a) One representative: winner of the domestic cup.
b) Three representatives: winner of the domestic cup and the two clubs
which finish the top domestic league championship immediately below
the club(s) which qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
c) Four representatives: winner of the domestic cup and the three clubs
which finish the top domestic league championship immediately below
the club(s) which qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

England has three representatives so if Man City win the Cup and don't qualify for the Champions League, they are in the Europa League as Cup winners and the runners-up have nothing to do with it. The 'spare' place goes to the highest place in the League not already qualified i.e. 6th.

Colin - what is your authority for what you say?

Eric - why did you change your mind?

Kieran - did Fulham not 'deserve' Europe when they reached the final, having finished a distant 7th the previous season?
Alan Clarke
23   Posted 11/04/2011 at 10:32:14

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Eric #12. You're partly right. Liverpool will qualify for Europe but their final league placing is irrelevant.
Robert Elliott
24   Posted 11/04/2011 at 10:31:03

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I think Europe, as in the Europa League can be a double-edged sword. We really don't have the depth of players to cope with the extra games, but I think we all feel that a club of our size and history should be playing European football.

However, in this case, I don't think it will happen. Can't see City not finishing in the top four, and we are too far behind to get fifth (unless Spurs implode when they get knocked out of the CL ? wouldn't that be a disappointment for Mr Pienaar!).

As for our season, well it's been very odd in many ways. I don't know where our points total at this stage would have us placed in previous years but I'm sure it wouldn't be on the verge of 6th place. We're going to come nowhere near our points total from last year but should improve our finishing position overall, which can't have happened too many times in the past.

Even stranger that we're producing our best results (if not performances) when we have four of our best players (Arteta, Fellaini, Cahill and Saha) injured plus others such as Coleman and Rodwell unavailable as well. Similar to when we finished fourth a few years ago, we seem to produce our best when our backs are right up against the wall. Maybe BK will use that as a cover when he sells our best players in the summer!
David Minahan
25   Posted 11/04/2011 at 10:43:44

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Phil(22) and Alan(23):

Not sure about this you know. I think there must be special arrangements applying to England otherwise the Carling Cup holders wouldn't qualify.
David McKitt
26   Posted 11/04/2011 at 11:17:12

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/9448435.stm

Explains it all...
Phil Guyers
27   Posted 11/04/2011 at 11:16:15

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David

Only England and France give their last Europa League place to the League Cup winners. This is a special arrangement as every other country does it on League placing.
Stephen Leary
28   Posted 11/04/2011 at 13:05:56

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6th will do, without Europe; get into the summer and pray that Kenwright sells up and we get owners in with ambition. I still think that won't happen though and Moyes will walk and several players will be sold. It could be last time for years where we ever get near the top 6 again, so sad and depressing but for me inevitable with the way things are going. KENWRIGHT OUT!!! COYB
David Wharton
29   Posted 11/04/2011 at 13:09:56

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Reading David (#26) article...

IF Spurs pip Man City to 4th AND
IF City win the cup AND
IF we beat Liverpool to 6th

then we will qualify for Europe.

I'll renew my Passport :)
Roberto Birquet
30   Posted 11/04/2011 at 14:12:48

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Colin
Not so, if $ity win the Cup and finish 5th, then either Bolton or Stoke would qualify.
--------------
I think you're wrong as at least one Europa League place has to come from the League, and a max of two from the Cups.

If City win the Cup and finish 5th, then City and Brum qualify for the Europa League via the cups. That would leave the one League placing for sixth - probably go to the Shite.

History would have us miss out. The seventh placed team was lucky to qualify last year as Pompey were barred (so Liverpool got it and we just missed out), then there was Moyes's first season ? missed out by a point. I remember we were penalised in '96, because Spurs refused to play that Intertoto Cup.

Then there was you know what, when our best ever team (?) was repeatedly denied Euro football until it split up and we were no longer good enough.

Sorry for being so negative but, Jesus, we've been unlucky.
Norman Merrill
31   Posted 11/04/2011 at 14:49:58

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As we stand, we do not have a squad big enough for Europa League games... unless things change in the close season, which I rather doubt.
Colin Gee
32   Posted 11/04/2011 at 17:05:37

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Phil #22

This is the site I've been looking at:

http://www.xs4all.nl/~kassiesa/bert/uefa/

Bloke seems to be the authority on everything UEFA.

There's also this 99-page document on the Regulations of the Europa League as well on his site.

I haven't read it all, but no doubt there's a clause somewhere in it which says something like ".....any team called 'Liverpool' that doesn't qualify for Europe through either the League or Cup competitions, will automatically qualify anyway as we will change the rules to allow them to do so...."
Phil Guyers
33   Posted 11/04/2011 at 17:16:58

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Colin

That is a brilliant site and uefa.com actually links to it if you want to know anything about European qualification. I've only recently gone back to it as I thought until recently we had no chance of Europe this year.

I still think what I said originally is correct. David McKitt's link above sums the situation up perfectly.

I've got to agree with you about the Reds, though.

Whilst I'm on, I thought I'd point out to David at 29 above that the odds are as follows:-

Everton (top 6) 4/1
Spurs (top 4) 5/2
City (win Cup) 9/4

I know it's hard to get a treble up but none of those outcomes are longshots. A fiver on it would bring in £284 if successful so I think I might invest.
Eric Myles
34   Posted 11/04/2011 at 17:58:09

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Phil #22, you have to read ALL the applicable rules 2.03 states:
2.03 In special circumstances, the winner of another official domestic competition may be entered for the UEFA Europa League instead of the lowest ranking top domestic league representative referred to in paragraphs 2.02(b) and 2.02(c), provided such a competition has been approved by UEFA before the start of the season in question (see Annex Ia).
This is the League Cup place.

And 2.04 states:
2.04 If the winner of the domestic cup qualifies for the UEFA Champions League,the domestic cup runner-up qualifies for the UEFA Europa League at the stage initially reserved for the lowest ranking top domestic league representative.
This is FA Cup runners up.

I don't see where it says what happens if the Cup winner qualifies for entry to the Europa by league placing also, it only mentions dual qualification with the CL. I presume it then goes to 6th? So City winning the Cup and finishing 5th would see 6th place enter Europa?
Colin Gee
35   Posted 11/04/2011 at 22:09:38

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Confused?
Here's what wikipedia, not the most reliable source says:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UEFA_Europa_League


Note especially this bit:
Qualification can be quite complicated if one team qualifies for European competition through two different routes. In all cases, if a club is eligible to enter the UEFA Champions League then the Champions League place takes precedence and the club does not enter the UEFA Europa League. The UEFA Europa League place is then granted to another club. If a team qualifies for European competition through both winning a cup and league placing, the "spare" UEFA Europa League place will go to either the cup runners-up or the highest placed league team which has not already qualified for European competition, depending on the rules of the national association.

So if $ity finish 5th and win the FA Cup, then the choice will be between the losing finalist and whoever finishes 6th in the League. Depending on what the FA Rules say.

I think we already know what the FA Rules 'say':? If we finish 6th then it will be Stoke or Bolton that enter Europe; if the RS finish 6th, then they will qualify...

Clive Lewis
36   Posted 11/04/2011 at 22:55:48

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Well actually I can see us finishing 6th. Liverpool have to play all the relugation strugglers and I can also see Man City beating Man Utd with a weakened side, that they will probably play. Yes, we have Man City and Chelsea, but these are at home. Man Utd away will be the only really difficult game.

Then again, we need a goalscorer, so it all comes down to the Yak being offloaded and no money. A crack at 4th next season is a distant dream. No money and no chance of 4th. We could get a load of freebies, with the pull that Europe gives you.

Michael Kenrick
37   Posted 12/04/2011 at 02:22:20

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"Man City and Chelsea, but these are at home. Man Utd away will be the only really difficult game."

Astounding what some people will write... after an expectedly "easy" win, presumably... simply astounding.
Alasdair Mackay
38   Posted 12/04/2011 at 12:40:50

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So... it seems that by beating City last night the RS did us a favour.

This weekend we NEED City to beat United, Arsenal to beat RS and we need to beat Blackburn. If that all happens we will be on for a 6th place finish and City to finish 5th! We also need Spurs to kick-on, so perhaps Peanuts could do us one last favour!
Clive Lewis
39   Posted 12/04/2011 at 19:12:05

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Well, Michael, you have to look positive. Chelsea and Man City seem to be average at the moment. I would rather be playing them than Birmingham, Villa and Arsenal away. And we have beaten them albeit on penalties already; Man City and Lescott were truly terrible last night.
Mike Allison
40   Posted 12/04/2011 at 22:24:44

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UEFA don't designate who can enter a competition, they leave it to the FA, so any rules on a UEFA website aren't as relevant as the FA's own policy.

The Telegraph article from 2008 is wrong, that rule was not implemented, and it is widely reported, David (26)'s BBC link being one obvious place, that the FA Cup runners-up WILL qualify for the Europa League, meaning, basically, we've got no chance.

I also can't see us coming 6th in any event. What does the Fair Play League look like?!
Eric Myles
41   Posted 15/04/2011 at 12:47:29

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The Soccernet website is already reporting 6th as a Europa Cup place.

And now the PL have a reason to let the RS in if they finish 6th, but of course not us, we're probably in worse fnancial shape than Brum.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/apr/15/birmingham-city-europe-fa-premier-league

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