Chelsea Victory in Champions League Could Mean Frustration for Several EPL Teams
The English Premier League truly is heating up with the same questions still left hanging in the balance.
All throughout the final weeks of the season, the focus has been on two main things—which Manchester club will take out the title and which of the five sides in contention will take the two remaining Champions League positions?
Putting the title race aside for the moment, the battle for third and fourth in the English Premier League has been one of the most exciting and fascinating races to watch.
Tottenham Hotspur seemed guaranteed a position before their stumble late in the season.
In contrast, Newcastle United seemed too far back to mount a challenge, but after winning six in a row, they catapulted themselves right back in to contention. Their most recent drubbing away to Wigan Athletic may well be a deciding factor in their chances.
Chelsea are also making a strong run—currently sitting sixth, but only one point away from that elusive fourth place.
The race for Champions League qualification has been well and truly on for several weeks now and with just three matches remaining in the season, it is without doubt one of the most discussed and debated topics across the league.
Even with their recent draw to Stoke, Arsenal appear to have third spot sewn up. They currently lie four points clear of fourth-placed Tottenham, and need just one win from their final two matches against Norwich and West Bromwich Albion to maintain their position.
Which means that the race for fourth spot is the race we're all meant to be watching.
Chelsea will play that match against Newcastle, before concluding their season with an away game at Liverpool and a home game against Blackburn. In all likelihood, they'll need seven points from those matches if they are to finishing in the top four.
It truly is a battle for the ages as three clubs fight down to the final week for their shot at European glory.
But there's a catch; you ready?
It could all be for nothing.
Yup, that's right. The race and the excitement and the passion and the debating and the arguing and the tension on and off the field?
It could all be for nothing.
See, if Chelsea should claim victory over Bayern Munich in the final of the UEFA Champions League on May 19th, the jubilation that should ensue across all English clubs won't happen.
The excitement of it being England, and not Spain, Germany, Italy or France that took out Europe's highest honor, won't happen.
The pride and passion as to the depth and quality of the English Premier League won't happen.
At least not for one side.
And that one side is the side that worked so hard to finish fourth.
The winner of the hottest race in England would in fact, receive no prize at all.
For if Chelsea win the UEFA Champions League and don't finish in the top four, the team that did finish fourth would in fact be forced to make way for the Blues to compete next year.
The team that rightly won their position through hard work and consistency on the pitch would be forced to vacate for a side that they rightly beat to that spot.
Be it Tottenham; be it Newcastle, they would both have to make way for Chelsea should they win the Champions League.
The technical rule from the Official Regulations of the UEFA Champions League reads as follows:
If the title-holder comes from an association entitled to more than one place in the UEFA Champions League and does not qualify for the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Cup through its domestic competitions, the lowest-ranked club of the association's UEFA Champions League representatives is automatically transferred to the UEFA Cup.
For Tottenham or Newcastle—whichever team finishes fourth—should Chelsea win the Champions League, they'd be forced back to the UEFA Cup and not the Champions League.
It may well be unfair, and it may well not make any sense, but it is what it is and for now, UEFA doesn't appear to be changing it's mind on the matter.
Should Chelsea win the Champions League, the hard work and effort put in by either Tottenham or Newcastle will seemingly have all been in vain.
And that will mean that the excitement and enthusiasm and praise deserved for the English domestic league for winning Europe's top honor will be somewhat lost in the midst of frustration and anger.
Having said that, Chelsea might not win the Champions League.
Eager to avenge their domestic season loss, Bayern Munich definitely want that to happen.
And I can think of two English clubs who secretly wouldn't mind it at all.
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