A quick browse over the Premier League’s official website highlights just why this is the case.
At the moment Chelsea are in the top five of the Premier League and still in the Europa League so already have two avenues currently available to them and European football next season.
Of course Chelsea will be pushing for the Champions League places in the Premier League but have serious competition from the likes of Arsenal, Spurs and Everton. Therefore it is not beyond comprehension that The Blues could finish sixth leaving them needing an FA Cup victory to secure a European place next season.
However if Chelsea do finish in the top five in the league this season then they cannot qualify for Europe via an FA Cup victory. Now while it may seem to make more sense to most of us that the extra space should in this scenario go to the sixth place team in the Premier League (I would say that being an Everton fan) it does not.
In the event the FA Cup winners are qualified for the UEFA Champions League the FA Cup runners-up will qualify, but in the place reserved for the lowest ranking Barclays Premier League representative. The place with direct access to the Group Stage will be given to the club that finishes in the highest position in the Barclays Premier League of the clubs qualifying for the UEFA Europa League.
Now with Manchester City already assured of a place in the top four this season if they were to beat Chelsea in their FA Cup semi-final it would leave Millwall or Wigan celebrating a season in the Europa League; regardless of their result in the FA Cup final itself.
For Millwall it would be their first appearance since being FA Cup runners-up in 2004 and going into the UEFA Cup in 2005. That ended disastrously; with a comfortable defeat to Hungarian side Ferencvaros in the first round.
For Wigan it would be their first ever qualification for European football and be another feather in the cap of the ever growing reputation of Roberto Martinez.
The likelihood is that with Chelsea where they currently are on a domestic and continental front whoever wins the semi-final between Millwall and Wigan will be playing European football next season.
Making it far more than just an FA Cup semi-final.
image: © nicksarebi