Whether it is the Champions or Europa League for Newcastle United, they could have a key role in deciding whether the English Premier League remains number one in terms of club football.
UEFA’s system gives points to teams on the basis of reaching each stage of a competition and for wins and draws. You then tot up all the points for all the teams a country has in European competition, divide the total by the number of teams, and that is your country co-efficient. On the basis of five seasons’ returns, to balance out freak good or bad results, you then rank the countries and award places.
England (Premier League) are currently top but this is more to do with consistency than real success. The last time the English league was top in any particular season was 2007/08 when an English club coincidentally last won a European trophy, Manchester United in the Champions League.
Since then the English league has remained number one (average over the last five seasons) but the countries who have finished top in individual seasons since then have been Ukraine (2008/09), Germany (2009/10), Portugal (2010/11) and this current season it will be Spain – regardless as to whether Chelsea win the final or not.
Much of other countries’ success is down to performances in the Europa League where English clubs have been generally dismal, not helped by many of them putting weakened teams out.
Next season will be a real struggle for England to remain top because 2007/08 points fall off and will be replaced by next season’s European performances, Spain will start with a sizeable advantage and if the English teams don’t outperform them in both the Champions League AND Europa League then the self-professed greatest league on the planet won’t be, if you see what I mean.
The ‘big’ clubs won’t worry too much at the minute as the top three countries get four Champions League places and the top three (England, Spain and Germany) are actually increasing the gap to Italy in fourth.
The fact remains though that Newcastle will be representing both club and country next season and I have a pretty strong feeling the Premier League marketing executives will be praying that Newcastle United do the business, ‘second best league in Europe’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it!