What would European football mean for Newcastle?

Posted on April 13th, 2012 | 20 Comments |

Clarke and Moncur with the Fairs Cup.
Dare we dream?
European qualification is now looking very possible for Newcastle United, so what is involved in terms of games and what sort of pay-off can we expect from a decent run?

With European qualification looking ever more likely for Newcastle, it’s probably worth having a look at what qualification would mean to us in terms of the games we’d need to play.

The Europa league consists of 3 qualifying rounds, a play-off stage, 48-team a group stage, a round of 32, a round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and a final. Astonishingly, if a team from the first qualifying round gets to the final they’d have played 23 additional games in their season.

The first two qualifying rounds need not worry us though as the English League is ranked number 1 according to the UEFA coefficients and we can thus enter the competition at a higher stage. We have 3 places allocated to us for the Europa League. The most prestigious place goes to the FA Cup winners, who enter at the group stage. Then the 5th placed side in the Premier League enter at the play-off stage and the least prestigious place goes to the League Cup winners who enter in the third qualifying round. If a team qualifies more than once for a Europa League place they take the most prestigious slot they qualified for and the ‘reserve qualifier’ gets the less prestigious slot.

We could still find ourselves in the most prestigious qualifying slot because if, for example, we finish 5th and the FA Cup winner qualifies for the Champions League, the ‘reserve’ qualifier comes in at the bottom (assuming they’re below us in the League) so we’d get in at the group stage.

Anyway, the group stage is played between 12 groups of 4 teams and the top 2 qualify. Each team plays the other 3 teams in its group both home and away, so unless we do indeed get the most prestigious qualifying slot we can bank on at least 6 additional games. And you can add 2 games per stage to that from there until the final.

The worst case scenario is if we qualify in the least prestigious place (still possible), which would mean we’d need to play 4 games before we even get to the group stage.

For the Champions League it’s not much better. That consists of 3 qualifying rounds, a play-off stage, a 32-team group stage, a round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and a final. However, the lowest we’d enter that would be the play-off stage, which is what is allocated to the 4th-placed team; the top 3 all go in at the group stage. It’s groups of 4 in the Champions League too, so getting there means 6 extra games and – like the Europa League – there are home and away legs for each tie. It’s slightly less frantic but a decent Champions League run would still involve a fair few extra games.

All in all, a decent run in any of the European competitions could easily mean an additional 10-12 games on top of the 38 Premier League games and the domestic cups. It is therefore encouraging that we appear to have a decent ‘second defence’ by way of Williamson and Perch, plenty of options for midfield and a growing attack force. Premier League squad sizes are of course limited by the FA to 25 players but these rules do not apply in Europe (or in the domestic cups), so we can use some those players who have be unlucky enough not to be allocated a place in the League squad if necessary. Of course depth in terms of numbers doesn’t necessarily mean depth in terms of quality, so some of our first-choice players are going to have to step up and cope with a busier football schedule.

So what’s the pay-off for all this gallivanting around Europe?

Well beyond the increased gate receipts, better chances of sponsorship and general kudos, there are cumulative prizes in both European competitions. In the Europa League this season, each qualifying round and the play-offs nets €90,000. If you get to the group stage you get €640,000 plus a bonus of €60,000 per match played and if you win a group match you get an additional €140,000. It’s then €200,000, €300,000 and €400,000 for each of the knockout round respectively, so a decent run to – say – the second knockout round will earn a club €1.3-€1.5m. Then you get €700,000 for reaching the semifinal and a minimum of €2m for reaching the final (the winner gets €3m).

The Champions League works on roughly the same basis as the Europa League but it’s far more lucrative with each round paying three to six times more money than the corresponding one in the Europa League. If, for example, you get to the group stage you receive €3.9m and then €550,000 per group match played. The winner of the Champions League gets €9m this year (and that’s on top of their earnings from the other rounds). Once you add TV rights into it, it can be extremely lucrative: in 2010-2011 Man Utd earned €53.2m from their Champions League campaign despite losing in the final.

One of the best pay-offs from being involved in such football though is that it helps a club attract new players and keep them.

We’re not there yet of course but I thought I’d take a look at what’s involved and what the rewards might be.

Incidentally, the I’m having trouble with the number seven and it’s bed-buddy the ampersand on my keyboard, so if you find any strange blanks in my articles try it out with a seven or an ampersand and hopefully it’ll make sense.

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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20 Responses

  1. To me the most important thing is that Abeid, Vuckic, Ferguson, Sammy Ameobi & Gosling will get more playing time.

    That has to be a massive bonus.


  2. The good thing is that in addition to Stoke on a wet Wednesday it might be Paris or Malaga on a sunny Thursday.

  3. Dear Chuck:

    it hurts to support Newcastle United. In space ships they won’t understand.

    It is not like supporting Swansea or Watford when you don’t feel it in your gut.

    4-4-2 or 4-3-3 doesn’t matter, the Ben Arfa run will live with you and make you smile. And Shearer scoring from a throw in – just magic.

  4. a 25-man squad needs to be named for the UEFA competitions too, with at least 4 club-grown and additional 4 home-grown players.

    Should we make it to the playoffs of the CL, I very much think we would be unseeded, which means getting paired with a team of much more international experience, but losing the CL playoffs you get to the EL group stage.

  5. I missed the last bus
    I’ll take the next train
    I’ll try, but you see
    It’s hard to explain

    I say the right thing
    but act the wrong way
    I like it right here
    but I cannot stay

    I’m watching TV
    forget what I’m told
    Well I am too young
    and they are too old

    The joke is on you
    This place is a zoo
    as if she can’t decide…

  6. GS says:
    April 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    “Didn’t we get like Partisan Belgrade or somebody last time and get knocked out?”

    Aye, Bobby Robson, GS. 1-1 on aggregate, 4-3 on penalties. Not a plesurable game for the Magpies fan.

  7. GS @6#
    Have no idea what you are on about ?
    Experimenting with mind altering stuff are we ?

  8. Lets not get ahead of ourselves or start making any reservations, for european games.
    As it’s normal to see if ones team qualify first.

  9. I’m worried because we are Newcastle. 5 wins in a row makes me worried and not predictive of more wins.

    I have had my heart broken too many times.

  10. GS says:
    April 13, 2012 at 2:07 pm


    do you get to the London games?”

    GS, Unfortunately, this blog and another thing a while back kept me away from too many of them. I was at the Arsenal game though, and I’m going to put it right next season. I should be trudging up to St James’ Park a few times too.

  11. Going to the London games !
    I recall a few years back, having watched a game @ St. James’ i bought a ticket for the away game @ The Boleyn.
    Figuring it would be nice to be in with the Geordie Hardcore crowd.
    It was a nice day so i started out the door with a short sleeved blue shirt, then thought, hmmm, might get cold, so grabbed a sweater.
    On entering the ground and seeing a mass of black and white striped Newcastle fans, all staring in disbelief at me.
    As i was wearing a blue shirt with a maroon sweater, believe me a bit scarey.
    I found my place and said something to the guy next to me, who looked at me as if i had leprosy or something.
    And to my releif i heard someone say “hes a daft yank man” Phew !!1
    Think that was the day Shay got injured.
    And i was just happy to get outta there intact myself.

  12. Chuck says:
    April 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    “As i was wearing a blue shirt with a maroon sweater, believe me a bit scarey.”


    Ye daft Yank! :-)