Europe: A Rant

Last updated : 18 January 2007 By Jim Bonner
I originally intended to write this article earlier but with lack of any real news regarding Pompey recently I feel this may now be the time to unleash a rant.

Pompey have been going really well in the league. I've been chuffed with the season so far but I do have one gripe that has come to my attention in recent games: The "We're all going on a European Tour" song.

The press like to state that we're currently occupying a UEFA Cup place as we lie 6th in the table. However, they are wrong. I originally stated why they're wrong on hospital radio after the Wigan FA Cup game and it has also been mentioned on the Fratton Faithful messageboards. However for the benefit of those readers who don't know why we're not in a European place, allow me to explain.

The top two are very likely to be Manchester United and Chelsea. They will qualify automatically next season for the UEFA Champions League. The teams that finish third and fourth must play a qualifier to reach Europe's top club competition and it's likely that Liverpool and Arsenal are going to finish in them places, but we do have a small chance of achieving a top 4 spot.

After that, 5th place takes a place in the UEFA Cup but following that there are no more automatic European qualification places left in the league. Instead, these places rely on the winners of the domestic cups. Two more UEFA Cup places are available in the league if:

- The winner of the Carling Cup qualifies for Europe via league placing.
- The winner of the FA Cup qualifies for Europe and then if the defeated finalists also have qualified for Europe too.

So we have allsorts of potential scenarios here.

For example; we could finish 6th and get nothing if Tottenham or Wycombe (Ha!) win the Carling Cup next month and Scummers inexplicably get the easiest possible draw in the FA Cup and make it to the final.

This scenario happened in the 03/04 season where Villa finished 6th yet Middlesbrough won the Carling Cup and Millwall got to the FA Cup final meaning for all of the Villans' hard work, all they had to celebrate was lining Doug Ellis' pockets with more money than 14 other Premiership clubs.

So to give us a better chance of qualifying for Europe we would obviously want either Arsenal or Chelsea to lift the Carling Cup. It would take a minor miracle for Wycombe to win the trophy but if Spurs did then there's a possibility that they could finish below us in the league and yet take our place in Europe away. For now, it's in Pompey's best interests that the Carling Cup is won by the Gunners or Chelsea.

We could still qualify for Europe via the FA Cup, however with our nasty draw that now looks unlikely so if United do knock us out, it would be handy for us, that they go all the way and meet either Arsenal or Chelsea in the final as that would then open up another UEFA Cup qualifying position in the league.

However, I could be accused of jumping the gun. The season is far from finished, we have achieved nothing yet. There's a long way to go and I won't believe we are playing in Europe until it is confirmed, but that won't stop everyone else singing the "European Tour" song.

Maybe the words to our latest song should be "We're all being a little premature"?