Arsenal in European Third Tier Competition? The Pros and Cons

The glamour, the atmosphere, the magic: welcome to the Europa Conference

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.



26 Responses to Arsenal in European Third Tier Competition? The Pros and Cons

  1. Broken Winged Bird says:

    I think such a competition is so low key we would really need to play an absolute B or C team in it with better players only featuring if they need match fitness.

    The club couldn’t possibly risk injuring any of its star players for essentially no purpose at all.

  2. RockyLives says:

    I agree BWB – but what about the impact on Arteta and the coaching staff?

    Would you suggest that a Europa Conference team could be managed by someone like Steve Bould or the BFG, with Arteta nt having to get involved?

    Might not be a bad idea.

  3. allezkev says:

    Interesting post. I’ve read a lot recently along this theme, thanks for your efforts.

    It would be brilliant for the youngsters and fringe 1st team players to play in the Conference, we could treat the competition like it was a european version of the EFL Trophy or as it’s more famously known the Papa Johns Trophy and Steve Bould could manage the team allowing Arteta the chance to rest up so he can focus on the EPL.

    Back in the real world I think it would more of a hindrance than a help, we need to use next season as an opportunity to crack the top four again, anything else is a bonus.

  4. LBG says:

    No, not now, not never! This is our sabbatical from which, having sated ourselves on cheap booze and weed, we return new men ( and women, Sue) and ready to do the Quadruple!!

  5. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rocky

    I’d go for it as long as it’s only the academy players and coaches involved with any 1st team squad member only playing if it’s a useful “returning from injury” run out to gain match fitness. Even then I think that should be avoided and it should be purely a youth team.

    We sometimes struggle to get decent exposure to our promising youngsters anyway, with 1st team exposure being hard to provide for them, and loan spells more often proving disappointing.

    Would love to see Azeez, Patino, Bola, e.t c playing against senior overseas clubs, albeit the lower end ones, to aid their development.

    Not sure how UEFA will view that though and whether they would put up an obstruction to us using the competition in this way to essentially become part of our academy development programme rather than anything we are taking seriously.

    UEFA though tend to take a dim view of that kind of behaviour as if we are belittling one of their competitions. Not that I care what UEFA think as long as we can do it this way and there is nothing they can do about it.

    To treat this competition as anything other than that is embarrassing for a club of our stature and we should leave it as a take it or leave it situation with UEFA and politely decline our involvement if they start getting shirty.

  6. Aaron says:


    Thanks for keeping things going.

    Decline, hard pass, waste of time and resources, whatever..

    Get the team ready for a quick start, shed some players, William, Bel, Xhaka, Ode, Dani, Kola, and get some youngsters moving into those slots, Saliba, Nelson, Azeez, Balo, Willock, AMN, and either play them, loan them or sell them and bring in players that can be part of the plan.

  7. LBG says:

    Why couldn’t we have an owner like the former Leicester owner.

  8. GoonerB says:

    You are right that ultimately we need a change of ownership LBG. This will not be an easy thing to accomplish but if you look at where we have gone from and to under the Kroenke Stewardship it is a massive fall from grace that essentially means they are not fit for purpose as owners.

    While we hope Arteta is the man to develop the team and youngsters I feel we will ultimately always be hamstrung under the current owners.

    They will make some placatory gestures at times to try and calm us down and appease us, but there will never be a permanent showing of ambition from KSE. A bit of money spent when the natives get restless and then when we shut up and quiten down they will revert to type until the next uprising…..and rinse and repeat.

  9. GoonerB says:

    Just to be completely antagonistic, Leicester also showing (even before that goal) that its possible to compete against Chelsea without parking the bus and allowing them 50 touches in your box to 9 in theirs…….just saying 😜

  10. GoonerB says:

    They should have parked the bus 😂

  11. GoonerB says:

    Oh no they shouldn’t

  12. LBG says:

    I believed. Thank you Leicester!

  13. allezkev says:

    It’s nice to see the Cup won by a proper football club.

  14. LBG says:

    MOM Fofana
    Mount and Chelsea right back ( sorry too happy) best players in their positions in Premier League!

  15. GoonerB says:

    I’ve noticed we’ve been missing RA recently. Are you ok big fella? Where are you?

  16. LB says:

    “The Europa Conference”……..shakes head and mutters as he walks off — Oh how the mighty have fallen.

  17. jjgsol says:

    We would not be able to field much of a team of academy graduates, because it looks like Arteta will have got rid of many of the ones with some first-team experience, like AMN, Reiss Nelson, Eddie, Willock and those who have been on loan this year.

    By the time all of the players suggested to leave have gone, we are likely to be fielding a pretty reserve type team in the Premier League, provided, of course, they all continue to do what they are told.

  18. JM says:

    From the BBC: “Arsenal: Spotify founder Daniel Ek says his bid for the club has been rejected.”

    On topic:

    Personally, I would pass on the 3rd tier Europa Conference League. Our club’s EPL standing (getting into top 4 or even better) take priority next season, follow by winning the domestic cups (the FA Cup and/or the EFL Cup) which also guarantees a spot in the Europa league the following season.

    There shall also be less traveling around Europe, which helps with limiting exposure for our players and staff to COVID-19 and especially the new and more infectious and transmittable variants. (The COVID-19 vaccination doses administered in Europe differs from country to country).

    Some Arsenal 1st team players are also involved in the upcoming Euro, Olympics and Afcon tournaments in 2021 and early 2022. Our team would be stretched.

    However, if our team should qualify, we just have to get on with and manage it.

  19. LBG says:

    Chelski have lost eight of their last eleven finals.

  20. LBG says:

    Guess I am in a minority of one who wouldn’t consider having Ramsey back ( or Oxlade Chamberlain, or Walcott, or Iwobi)!

  21. LBG says:

    Time to get radical!
    The Kroenkes ” dont need Ek’s money”. Largely because you have been taking dividends out ever since you got your greedy hands on the shares of the so called greedy Arsenal people who sold their shares to you.
    What kind of seriously bad publicity might change your minds?

  22. JM says:

    @LBG 8.21am & 8.30am,

    The only former Arsenal player who is still playing that I might take back is Wojciech Szczęsny. Now age 31, and having won league titles & trophies at Juventus and also awarded Serie A GK of the year in 19/20 season, he should become an experienced veteran player for us if signed. Another plus is that he would qualify as a home-grown (HG) player for the EPL too.

    Regarding the Kroenkes, unless some major scandals or the worst of financial difficulties hit KSE and/or Walmart, not likely to materialise (as in putting our club for sale).

  23. VP says:

    its a great read –

    Thank you to everyone who gave me, a childhood Arsenal fan, the opportunity to be in the inner sanctum of one of the greatest clubs in the world. Not many people get the opportunity to do that.

    The fans have been absolutely fantastic with me ever since day one and, while I know that I will have sometimes frustrated them by trying different things with my tactics and selections, I hope that they know I’ve always acted in the best nature for the team and the best interests of everyone involved. There’s never been any self-interest from my point of view. My only focus has been on Arsenal.

  24. JM says:

    Tactics 1-2-3 by Joe Montemurro.

  25. GoonerB says:

    VP and JM, good comments. JM, that tactical talk could just as easily have been about the mens first team. The basic principles regarding how to beat a high press and work the ball forward, and how to win back possession when lost, is the same.

    We haven’t quite perfected it yet at the senior mens level and remain slightly deficient in some of the areas that Montemurro talks about.

  26. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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