If Arsenal fail to win the Europa League and finish outside the top-four this term, we will start a fifth straight season in the summer without Champions League football at the Emirates.
That really is sad.
Arsene Wenger ensured our qualification into Europe’s most prestigious tournament season after season. We played 19 consecutive years in the Champions League, but ever since Bayern Munich knocked us out in 2017, we’ve had to settle for Thursday night football.
That has had a huge impact on our finances. Even Josh Kroenke, son of our own Stan, claimed in 2019 that Arsenal have a ‘Champions League wage bill on a Europa League budget’. (Express) That’s not ideal at all, and things don’t look like it will change.
A top-four finish this season is extremely unrealistic at the moment. Winning the Europa League is a very real possibility, but with tough teams still left in the competition, it certainly won’t be easy.
The pressure is well and truly on Mikel Arteta to deliver Champions League football at the Emirates. That pressure, however, will be eased in a few years time if UEFA go through with their planned reforms.
UEFA’s new Champions League format
The Evening Standard claim today that UEFA are set to bring in a new format that would make it easier for top clubs to qualify for the Champions League from the 2024-25 season.
A Swiss model is set to be introduced which would allow four more clubs to participate in the competition. Two of the extra four places will go to teams based on their historic coefficient, provided they have done enough to qualify for one of the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.
That could benefit Arsenal if we fail to improve in the coming years. Finishing in the top-four will no longer remain the only way to get into the Champions League, which would make things a lot easier for clubs who narrowly miss out.
That really is unfair to clubs from outside Europe’s top leagues, who will find it even more difficult to qualify. However, the big sides will bring in a ton of money through TV deals and sponsorships, and that is what’s most important to UEFA in today’s world.
Clubs like Arsenal and Tottenham will likely welcome the new rules. As much as it takes the fun out of the top-four race, more clubs will have the opportunity to play in Europe’s elite club competition.
The deal is expected to be signed off tomorrow irrespective of people’s opinions about it. Let’s just hope Arsenal will be up there challenging for the Premier League title by 2024 instead of just aiming to finish fifth and squeezing ourselves into the Champions League.