The day has arrived as our European-bound Welsh Premier League clubs await their fate
Unless you’re supporter of one of the qualifying clubs, the chances are that you will be unaware of today’s draw for the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League and Europa League qualifying.
The draws for the first two qualifying rounds in both competitions are made at UEFA’s headquarters in Sion, Switzerland this afternoon with TNS, Bala Town, Llandudno and Connah’s Quay all involved. The clubs will have little time to prepare with the first legs being played next week!
European competition is considered as a good yard-stick to see how our league stands up and results have generally been more positive in recent seasons. We go again in this summer with the carrot of some significant prize money and credibility for the WPL at stake for those involved.
2016/17 UEFA Champions League
8 champions from associations 47–54 (Wales listed 51st in UEFA coefficient seedings).
Furthermore based on those rankings, the eight teams are split into seeded and unseeded. TNS, seeded, will face either B36 Tórshavn (Faroe Islands), Lincoln Red Imps (Gibraltar), Alashkert (Armenia) or Tre Penne (San Marino).
Should, as expected, they advance from there, TNS would face one of the seeded second qualifying round teams. IMAGE
First qualifying round -First leg: 28–29 June 2016, Second leg: 5–6 July 2016.
Second qualifying round – First leg: 12–13 July 2016, Second leg: 19-20 July 2016.
The draw is arranged so it is also possible to anticipate who TNS’s opponents would be should they advance to the third qualifying round, where there are some real heavyweights such as Shakhtar Donetsk, Ajax, Anderlecht, Fenerbache, Monaco, PAOK come into the fold. Defeat in the third qualifying round doesn’t mean the end of their European adventure continue as they would, confusingly, then drop into the Europa Leauge qualifying rounds.
2016/17 UEFA Europa League
Bala Town, Llandudno and Connah’s Quay are all unseeded as Welsh clubs going into the first qualifying round.
They could face 48 possible seeded opponents with the most notable sides being Maccabi Tel Aviv, FC Midtjylland, AIK, Brondy, IFK Gothenborg, Videoton, Slovan Bratislava, Hearts, Aberdeen, Shamrock Rovers, St. Patrick’s Athletic and Linfield.
Again, as with the Champions League draw, we will be able to see possible opponents for both the second and third qualifying rounds. Beyond that, there is the 44-team play-off round which features sides who’ve dropped out of the Champions League qualifying – TNS could well feature here –, the 22 clubs who come through that advance into the main UEFA Europa League group stage.
First qualifying round -First leg: 30 June 2016, Second leg: 7 July 2016.
Second qualifying round – First leg: 14 July 2016, Second leg: 21 July 2016.
I’ll update the blog later in the day with the confirmed fixtures, good to all the clubs involved!