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Chelsea and Champions League qualification
Should Chelsea lift the Champions League trophy on May 19th, and finish outside the top four of the Premier League, UEFA will grant them the opportunity to defend their crown next season. But is this right? The likelihood is that if Chelsea finishes 5th or 6th, it will be either Newcastle or Tottenham that will miss out on that coveted prize of Champions League football in the coming season.
Roberto Di Matteo’s men are in both the FA Cup final and Champions League final. To reach the climax of two such prestigious competitions, and to have beaten such accomplished teams in the process of each, is reflective of a Chelsea side that are quite capable of finishing in the top four of the league. To punish either Alan Pardew or Harry Redknapp for Chelsea’s shortcomings in the league seems somewhat harsh, though.
Tottenham’s and Newcastle’s seasons boil down to whether Chelsea can defeat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. Football is all about winning and losing, and Chelsea should just have to put up with the fact that finishing fifth in the table doesn’t equal Champions League qualification. If they win the competition this year – well done. That is an incredible achievement. Finishing fifth, however, isn’t. Why should Chelsea be afforded the chance to defend their crown? The simple fact is that their league form hasn’t been good enough to warrant a place in next year’s competition. If Chelsea fans feel that this is unfair, they need only look to the history books to see that a team has never successfully defended their title since the inception of the modern competition.
What if the final follows a similar pattern to the 2008 final? Both teams at a stalemate and penalties are the decider of the eventual winner. We could see the scenario whereby a Nicolas Anelka penalty decides the fate of Tottenham’s or Newcastle’s future. How absurd does that sound? Newcastle has exceeded all expectations this season; they were tipped as mid-table contenders at best. The reality is that they have a genuine chance of playing in Europe’s elite completion next season. Tottenham have also played some excellent football at times this season, and at one stage were title contenders. To have all of this hard work undone by a result elsewhere, not even in the country, is madness.
Top European Leagues need more spots
UEFA need to change this rule. Let five teams from England enter the competition if it ensures that common sense prevails. What fan has ever been entertained by a small-time club from the outer reaches of Eastern Europe? At very best, these teams pick up two or three points in the group stages. Tottenham, though, have proven that they pose a threat in this competition, and can entertain a continent. Newcastle, the same. However, for the sake of a club with a fan base no bigger than Wigan Athletic FC’s, either Tottenham or Newcastle will have to wait another year for a chance at the big time.
By Sam Balls