West Ham United will play in the Europa League in the 2015-16 season.
The Hammers were awarded a place in the first qualifying round of the Europa League after finishing top of England’s Fair Play rankings, and that means their 2015-16 season will start on July 2.
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That’s right… 37 days from now. There is a slight issue still to resolve before that: West Ham do not have a manager after Sam Allardyce walked away on the final day of the 2014-15 PL season. Oh. Yeah. About that…
An extra Europa League spot was awarded to the English Football Association after they finished second in UEFA’s Fair Play table and that means West Ham are going on a European tour in their final season at Upton Park before they move to the Olympic Stadium.
In a joint-statement on the Hammers’ website Joint-Chairman David Gold and David Sullivan expressed their delight that West Ham will be playing in Europe for the first time since 2006-07.
“We are delighted to have won a place in the UEFA Europa League as we want to ensure the Boleyn Ground the best send-off possible, and progress in this competition will certainly help with that. Starting in early July will bring its challenges, but everyone at the Club, from the Board to the players and supporters will be relishing the opportunity to feature on the European stage. It should be a fantastic experience.”
If West Ham manage to negotiate the four rounds of qualifying, the will join Tottenham and Liverpool in the group stages of the competition, while either Southampton or Aston Villa will enter at the third-qualifying round depending on whether or not the latter win the FA Cup on Saturday against Arsenal.
After poor performances in Europe from PL clubs this season, no team progressed past the quarterfinal stage of the UCL or the Europa League, England’s UEFA coefficient could take a hit and the PL’s fourth UCL spot could be in question. But, if eight of the PL’s 20 teams compete in the Champions League or Europa League group stages next season, the coefficient is likely to stay steady and European spots will stay the same.
I wonder what West Ham’s players think about having just over a month between their final PL game of the 2014-15 season and their first Europa League qualifier?