Sunday 21 June 2015

Europa League Opponents Exposed

And the food is shit too!
You may have noted the relative silence regarding the draw for the Europa League which, in no small part, reflects the indecipherability of the rules that underpin how the draw is made (and possibly a degree of disinterest in the competition).

Thankfully, all we be revealed tomorrow lunchtime. In the interim, a few pointers;

There are trillions of clubs from the minor leagues of Europe (and Israel who get a special dispensation in order to avoid meeting their unfriendly neighbours). No clubs from Spain, France, Germany, Italy etc are in this round.

Scotland are represented by Aberdoon and St Johnstoon. Sadly, no Euro odyssey for Henhousemanure this year.

There is a seeding system of which the mighty Hammers are top dogs with the MASSIVE 16.0 rating! However, note that even Sheriff Tiraspol from Moldova are rated as 13.9. At the other end of the scale, Firefighters FC of Gibraltar are rated 0.3.

The seeding means that we are unlikely to get the dream draw of a tie against Slaven Bilic's home side Hadjuk Split as they have a seeding rating of 14.

There is a degree of regionalisation applied but UEFA are remaining coy as to how this actually works. We can thus dream of visits to the elusive Atlantis Klaipida of Lithuania and FC Gabala of Azerbaijan where undoubtedly the local Police have been dreaming for decades about having a go at misbehaving English football fans.

We could get drawn against clubs that have frankly foolish names or are embarrassingly small - so do not go bragging about the joys of European qualification until you are sure we aren't drawn against Odd Grenland, FC Bala or Airbus UK Broughton.

An Irish trip is on the cards - with St Patricks Athletic, Shamrock Rovers, Cork City (remember preseason last year!) and the "students" of University College Dublin all potentially on the menu. Norn Iron also have representation through Glenavon.

Your dedication to the Hammers cause could be sorely tested by potential trips to the financial, sociopolitical and culinary challenges that are KF Laci (Albania), Dinamo Batumi (Georgia) or the almightily long trip to Kairat Almaty of Kazakhstan.

Fingers crossed!

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