TOTTENHAM and Arsenal could be offered a confusing course in the Champions League next season.
The Uefa videoconference with the 55 national associations has agreed to continue attempts to restart the leagues across Europe by June to end the season.
But if it turns out to be impossible to finish the national seasons in the context of the persistent coronavirus crisis, the heads of the Euro have been invited to order the associations to use the scores of the UEFA coefficients to decide which teams will play in the respective competitions of the next term.
The ridiculous idea would see Arsenal join Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United in England’s “top 4”, with Spurs, Chelsea and Leicester in the Europa League – and Sheffield United and Wolves completely absent.
But the Spurs would take City’s place in the Champions League if the two-year ban on defending Prem champions was respected.
Meanwhile, the Premier League clubs prepare lawyers to fight UEFA’s latest crazy idea.
European football leaders will consider using the coefficient ranking to decide who will play in the Champions League and the Europa League in the next term – if the national leagues cannot be completed.
And if that becomes a reality, you can bet the writs will start flying.
The Uefa ordering the FA to ignore the Prem table when Wembley offers clubs to compete in next season’s European competition seems silly.
Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin would not be favorable, arguing that “the integrity of the competitions” must be paramount and urging this season’s performances to be decisive.
Yet, bonkers as it sounds, it was one of the ideas launched yesterday – and not – the virtual meeting table yesterday.
A real proposal, which will be discussed by the influential Association of European Clubs and UEFA today, then by the governing committee of European football tomorrow.
And if that materializes, the outrage of Leicester, Chelsea, Wolves and Sheffield United – and the private joy of Manchester United, Arsenal and, perhaps, Spurs – the only guarantee is that court challenges will be filed as soon as the decision has been ratified.
As a prominent boss of the Prem club put it, in a mastery of understatement: “If this were to happen, it would be a problem! “
Ceferin has used videoconferencing with the 55 national associations to make it clear that he wants the Big Five leagues, as well as the others, to start again by June and be played until the end, allowing the two European elimination competitions direct to be included at the end of August.
But with the duration of the coronavirus shutdown still uncertain, and the Uefa conceding for the first time what might not be possible, discussions spread to what would happen next.
UEFA’s brief statement following the meeting confirmed: “It was highly recommended that the national first division and cup competitions be completed.
“But certain special cases will be heard once guidelines for participation in European competitions – in the event of the cancellation of a league – have been drawn up. “
In such circumstances, Ceferin suggested that each national association submit a list of names to play in the Champions League and the Uefa League.
But some national federations, reluctant to take the final decisions and risk ending up with their clubs, have pushed back.
They argued that instead, the coefficients of UEFA clubs, which are calculated over a continuous period of five years, should be the key factor.
In the Prem, this would allow United, fifth, to leap over Leicester and Chelsea in third place from England, with Arsenal moving into fourth position from ninth.
When Gunners executives proposed £ 500,000 bonus clause if Emirates side lifted Champions League title next season, they probably didn’t realize the door to the richest prize could be opened from scratch go.
The Spurs, currently eighth, would join Chelsea in the Europa League, although, Manchester City still facing a two-year European ban, they could sneak into the “top four”.
Leicester, thanks to its participation in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2017, would be in the Europa League, the Wolves only in Europe if City were banned, and Sheffield United, who never played European football, not even a consideration.
The unfairness of such a scenario is obvious – in Spain, Atletico Madrid would “steal” Real Sociedad’s place, with Roma replacing Inter Milan in Serie A and Leverkusen and Schalke ahead of Leipzig and Mönchengladbach in Germany.
Ceferin need not call back and hopes the leagues can restart within six weeks which he envisions as the best solution for everyone.
But that remains an option before the meeting of the executive committee of tomorrow, which will see the big clubs represented by Andrea Agnelli of Juventus and Nasser Al-Khelaifi of PSG.
UEFA is expected to confirm that August will be the alternative to ending the season’s pending ties to the eurozone, as the extra time could potentially make travel between countries viable again.
And the executive committee should also reorganize the Euro 2020 play-off games, canceled last month, for the beginning of September – just before the probable start of the 2020-21 league campaign, with League of Nations matches ” with three heads ”in October and November.