As we all sit around and twiddle our thumbs waiting for the expected announcement of Tottenham Hotspur’s next manager, most of us agree that the last two seasons are ones to forget and we should scrub them completely from memory.
This morning, as I was prepping for my normal work day, I came across the updated UEFA Coefficient standings and saw that our beloved Spurs had climbed the European rankings to 12th place, jumping rivals Arsenal for the first time in club history.
New club coefficients are out for the 2022 season. Spurs have moved from 15th to 12th in Europe, surpassing Porto, Roma and Arsenal. pic.twitter.com/Vf28VKJt1l— Sean Cahill (@seancahill24) June 15, 2021
Yes, the Europa Conference League is third-tier, but that final match day win over Leicester City is vital for Spurs’ long-term European health. Allow to me explain!
First and foremost, it’s still European football.
I know this is the Captain Obvious answer, but Spurs should be in Europe. The club hasn’t missed playing in Europe in over a decade and it would be damn strange to see it happen with a shiny new stadium. One-offs certainly happen, but the third-tier competition means Spurs will be playing Thursday nights for the upcoming season instead of watching football at home on television.
Will it feel weird playing against the likes of clubs most of us have never heard before? Of course, but we get that with Europa League already. I did not know that Tromsø IL existed back in 2013 until we were drawn against them. Also, as an aside, these kits were fire.
Spurs played in the Arctic Circle almost ten years ago. We can handle the third-tier European competition for a season.
Secondly, padding coefficient is never a bad thing.
According to UEFA rules, the maximum points that a club can earn in European football is as follows:
Champions League: 36 points
Europa League: 33 points
Europa Conference League: 30 points
Clubs playing in the higher tier competitions can earn bonus points based on the level. It makes sense that Champions League participants can earn those points because they’re playing in the most difficult competition. Still, being able to earn up to 30 points in the third tier is nothing to sniff at, and it will mean Spurs have a big opportunity to jump a couple of clubs.
Looking at the 21-22 coefficient rankings, Spurs will lose 21 points for the 22-23 season, but the three clubs ahead of them in Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, are at least at the same number of points or higher. A strong showing in Conference League paired with those three teams not having deep runs in their own competition means Spurs could theoretically jump into the Top 10. That would mean if Spurs qualify for Champions League, Spurs are a virtual lock to be in Pot 2 and lowering their chances at potential groups of death being in Pot 3.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Arsenal are going to lose 21 points for next season with no way to replace them. Their coefficient will take a massive hit and they could potentially fall as many as eight places if the dominoes fall in the correct order. Arsenal supporters were quick to disparage Conference League the moment they were out of contention on match day 38, but they’re going to wish they were in it.
Finally, it still matters to potential transfer targets.
I’m not going to sit here and blow smoke up your a** by saying Spurs being in Conference League means they have an inside track on landing a £50m target compared to clubs in Champions League. I will, however, tell you that track record means something. Maintaining European competition is important, and while Spurs are facing a rebuilding season, being able to offer European football still matters in the long run.
I know we say it just about every season, but this upcoming summer is arguably the most important in recent memory. Everyone knows that Daniel Levy cannot miss or Spurs may not pull out of this tailspin. Two years ago, Spurs were in the Champions League final and riding high. They went out that summer and made crucial transfer moves. It should have made sure the ship stayed on course. Instead, it capsized and now the club are building a new ship. The first team squad is going to look wildly different and who Spurs bring in will determine the long-term future. At least being able to offer midweek European football is something a lot of other clubs cannot say.
In the end, I’m learning to not just deal with the Conference League, but to embrace it. It’s not the Champions League, but this could be a small blessing in disguise. Spurs can rotate heavily in the group stage and get some youngsters quality playing time while padding their standing in Europe. It’s also a potential trophy, something we’ve all been craving since we watched the likes of Ledley King, Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov, lift the Carling Cup after their shock defeat of Chelsea.
Enjoy it for what it is, but also know that it’s a great opportunity for Spurs.