Confusion over Arsenal Champions League play-off
Arsenal unsure what happens if Chelsea win Champions League, but Uefa says 'no play-off'
EDITORS NOTE: Last month Arsenal posted a blog on its official website about Champions League qualification. It said that Arsenal would qualify for the group stages come what may. However, when we rang Arsenal to check the situation a club official told The Week that they believed a play-off was still a possibility. Hence the confusion.
ARSENAL fans can sit back, relax and look forward to Champions League football after finishing off their season with a win over West Brom to secure third place in the Premier League.
By coming out top in the little London league, the Gunners have ensured their place at Europe's top table but it is not yet clear which other team from the capital will join them in the competition.
If Chelsea win the Champions League final next weekend they will be allowed to defend their title, but if they lose to Bayern Munich then Spurs, who finished fourth in the table, will get the final spot.
So, who should Arsenal fans support next weekend? A Chelsea win would consign Spurs to the Europa League, and most Gunners would approve of that. But some fans, and even the club itself, believe that a Chelsea triumph could mean that the Gunners would face yet another play-off to get to the group stage.
If Chelsea lose then Spurs, as the fourth placed team, would face a play-off to qualify for the Champions League group stages. If Chelsea win the tournament they will automatically qualify, so does that mean that Arsenal will then be forced to go through yet another nerve-wracking play-off?
The Week approached Arsenal and the club said that it expected to face a play-off and was preparing for just that eventuality if Chelsea won.
Of course Arsenal are well used to the play-offs - they have been forced to go through qualifying in five of the last six seasons. In 2006 they beat Dynamo Zagreb, in 2008 it was Sparta Prague, the following year they saw off Twente and in 2010 knocked Celtic out of the competition. This season Arsene Wenger's men overcame Udinese 3-1.
Despite their record Arsenal's luck cannot hold forever and the cost of missing out on the Champions League is enormous.
But, when we spoke to Uefa the news was better for Arsenal. A spokesman said that if Chelsea won the tournament then England would have four teams in the group stages of the Champions League, which means that Spurs are the only English team facing the prospect of a play-off.