It’s still unlikely we’ll finish as high as seventh in the Premier League, but not impossible.
If we do so we will be eligible for the new third-tier European tournament, the Europa Conference League.
It will serve as the bottom level of the existing Europa League competition, which is being cut from 48 to 32 teams in the group stage.
The Conference League will primarily be contested by teams from lower-ranked UEFA member associations. No teams will qualify directly to the group stage, with 10 teams eliminated in a round of play-offs and the rest coming from the Europa Conference League qualifiers. The winners of the competition are awarded a position in the Europa League the following season, unless they qualify for the Champions League.
Who can’t fail to be excited by the prospect of matching ourselves against the best that Latvia, Finland and Bosnia have to offer?
So, would it be beneficial or harmful for us to qualify for this competition?
I have drawn up some Pros and Cons but I’m sure it’s not an exhaustive list so please add your own thoughts in the comments.
It would bring in additional revenue (although how much is not clear. The Europa League is already a long way behind the Champions League for generating income and this third competition will presumably be less well funded even than that).
It would provide an opportunity for young players to cut their teeth at a competitive level and gain experience of European club football.
There would be more games for we fans to enjoy. Without this competition we will have the decidedly unfamiliar routine of games only at weekends with no regular midweek fare outside of the Carabao Cup. We have been spoilt with twice-a-week football for a quarter of a century. Will we cope without it? We might have to take up hobbies.
We may have some easy wins, which will give us something to smile about if Season 2021/22 turns out to be anything like as challenging as this one.
Without European football next season we would have a real opportunity to focus on our Premier League campaign (something that worked well for Leicester when they became champions and also for Chelsea, who won the title in a season when they were not in Europe). I’m not saying we have a realistic shot at being champions, but we do have a shot at CL qualification.
Even if we used mostly young players in the Europa Conference it would still entail Arteta and the coaching staff having to fly to weird small towns all over Europe in the middle of the week, no doubt removing them from first team preparation for two or more days at a time with a resultant knock-on effect.
Even if we entered the competition, went all the way and won it, the prize is rubbish: a place in the following season’s Europa League. Big deal. If we have not qualified for the Champions League or the Europa League through our EPL position next season then our problems will go way beyond the perils of playing in Kazakhstan on a Thursday night.
The money generated from the competition will probably be small beer for a club like Arsenal.
Over to you.