West Ham United have today been confirmed as the latest club eligible to feature in Europe this season after they topped the Premier League’s Fair Play table.
With this announcement, it now means that up to eight out of 20 Premier League clubs – or 40 per cent of all top flight sides – could potentially be competing in continental competition next season.
The teams competing in the Champions League include Premier League champions Chelsea, runners-up Manchester City, third-placed Arsenal and fourth-placed Manchester United, who will feature in a qualification play-off game.
Fifth-placed Tottenham will enter straight into the Europa League group stage while Liverpool must play a qualifying round game to enter Europe’s second tier.
The final two placings would go to seventh-placed Southampton on the premise that Arsenal win the FA Cup against Aston Villa – otherwise Tim Sherwood’s men will take that place – as well as the aforementioned inclusion of West Ham, who enter the Europa League at the first qualifying round. If all goes to plan, this could mean that almost half of all Premier League teams could play in the group stages of European competition next season.
This will be a tall order however, as the Hammers must play through four qualifying rounds to enter the Europa League, no mean feat for a side who will just be beginning pre-season when the first qualifying round roles around on July 2nd.
If all goes to plan however, it would mean a major boost for newly-promoted sides as well as those with aspirations of playing in Europe themselves, knowing that fatigue will come into play with travelling and playing across Europe. It would also create a massive fixture headache with four teams potentially having to play on a Sunday due to Europa League involvement.
On the other side of the coin, it could also make for a welcome financial boost to clubs and give sides some invaluable experience of playing against Europe’s elite.
This potential scenario would also mean England’s coefficient would have a great chance of rising, with a better chance than ever of and English club reaching the latter stages of each competition.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena