On Sunday, UEFA announced that Turkish clubs Sivasspor and Eskisehirspor have been banned from next season’s Europa League competition based on match-fixing claims.
According to the tournament’s governing body, the two clubs have been charged with deliberately throwing matches during the 2010-11 Turkish Super Lig season.
Based on this ruling, Sivasspor and Eskisehirspor’s only hope of overturning the decision will come in the form of an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which must be submitted within the next 10 days.
If the ruling is upheld, then next season’s Europa League will be short of two participants. In this case, it has been suggested that the countries with the best UEFA coefficient ratings will be handed the free slots. The Premier League, of course, falls within this remit.
This could see Manchester United handed a surprise route into next season’s competition, as a result of last season’s seventh-place finish,
Whether the club, or its supporters for that matter, will be pleased to hear this news, is a separate issue.
United fans were seemingly thrilled with their final league position. They felt qualifying for the much-maligned Thursday night competition would detract from their attempts to bounce back next season.
It will be interesting to see, firstly, how the supporters react to this update, and secondly, how incoming manager Louis Van Gaal approaches a situation in which his side are expected to participate in next season’s competition.
On the upside, European participation could help to attract a better calibre of player, however, it cannot be compared to the pull power provided by the Champions League. Unfortunately, the Red Devil's potential qualification will only be seen as an unwanted distraction.