West Ham confident of European qualification after cancelling summer schedule

Europa League Final

West Ham United have given the clearest indication yet that they believe the club will be in Europe next season after cancelling summer events.

The Hammers are looking the most likely Premier League team to qualify for next season's competition through the FIFA Fair Play route as the highest placed club not to have already cemented a place through their league position.

But it would also mean playing competitive matches a full five weeks earlier than normal with games kicking off as early as July 2.

West Ham will officially find out whether they have made it into the Europa League qualifying rounds shortly after the season ends with trip to Newcastle on Sunday.

That's providing Liverpool - the only team above the Hammers in the Fair Play standings when they were last published at the end of April - maintain a final finish of sixth place or above.

But the club are confident the Fair Play place is already theirs after they cancelled the entire summer schedule of pitch events planned at Upton Park.

Events booked in at the Boleyn as far back as last October, including the popular Frank MacAvennie Football Tournaments in June and a charity match between an Ex-West Ham XI and Great Ormond Street on Friday, were cancelled by the club on Monday evening.

In a statement from Frank MacAvennie Tournament organisers Football For Fans, participants were told the club had made the decision as they must re-lay the pitch earlier than usual so it is ready for Europa League matches.

The statement said: "It is with deep regret we inform you that West Ham United Football Club have advised that they have cancelled this year's pitch events.

"The reason given is that the club could be eligible for next year's Europa League and the pitch will therefore have to be relaid earlier than usual."

Next season will be the East London club's last ever at their famous Boleyn Ground before they move to their new Olympic Stadium home.

It is also the last time any team will qualify for Europe through the Fair Play system as it is being abolished next season in favour of one-off financial rewards to the best behaved clubs.

Should they qualify it will be the first time West Ham will have made it into Europe since 2007 when it was still the UEFA Cup.

It should serve as a warning, though, that the adventure didn't last long. Alan Pardew's Hammers played Italian Serie A side Palermo in a two-legged qualifier and were convincingly brushed aside 4-0.

Should the Hammers progress in the competition under the new Europa League format, it could almost double the number of games they play next season.

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