As we draw closer to the draw for the opening rounds of the Europa League, Cityview columnist Kevin McDaid takes a look at what City fans can expect from the draw
Note: This piece previously appeared in the Cityview print edition v Galway United and is an opinion piece
Europe, what you need to know…..
As this is our last game before the break it seems an apt time to turn our attention to the Europa League Draw. And with last minute tickets for the club’s fundraising draw still available, maybe this may whet your appetite for a trip to Europe with the Candystripes this summer.
City will enter the first round to the Europa league, as an unseeded side. Despite the success of Dundalk last year, the League of Ireland’s doesn’t get all that benefit equally shared. Therefore Shamrock Rovers, Cork and ourselves are all unseeded at this stage. Coleraine also find themselves as an unseeded side.
The draw takes place on the 19th of June, with the ties to be played on the 29th of June and the 6th of July. That doesn’t leave much time for either the club or the supporters to get organised, and a huge chunk of the “prizemoney” will get eaten up just for getting the team there for the game. Whilst the headlines may be about increased prizemoney, many of the benefits are negated due to the difficulties of having to organise this type of travel in the space of 24 hours after the draw. The draw is made for the first and second preliminary rounds at this stage, so City fans will be able to see who we might play if we are able to upset the odds of being unseeded. The second round ties will be played on July 13th and 20th if you needs the dates for your diary
So who can we play? So this is where it gets interesting. In the hat for the first round there are 100 teams, so 50 seeded and 50 unseeded. In order to attempt to put some measure of regionalisation on the draw, UEFA normally sub divide these into 10 pots of 10(5 seeded and 5 unseeded) around 12-24 hours before the draw. So whilst the stand out names on the seeded side include Red Star Belgrade, Rangers, Ferencvaros, AIK Stockholm – it is likely that some of these teams will not available to Derry.
Looking at the way UEFA have regionalised this draw before it looks as if Derry’s opponents will come from the following countries; Poland, Denmark, Belarus, Finland, Sweden, Scotland, Latvia, Norway, Kazakhstan, Iceland, Estonia, Norway, Northern Ireland. This is our best guess at the moment and the gambit runs from the exciting to the dreaded. Our old friends from Soligorsk are back in the draw and although the visa restrictions aren’t what they were the last time, I think I speak for most when I say I wouldn’t be rushing back. Scotland on the list means Rangers or St Johnstone. Along with Crusaders, the easiest trip logistically. Kazkhstan would be a logistical nightmare given the short turn around time.
The rest fall into the “decent destination, but can we beat them” category. For those reasons – Iceland, Estonia, Latvia look the most appetising. Sweden, Denmark and Poland have some serious hitters in their qualifiers – with AIK Stockholm and HJK Helsinki amongst the names there. FK Lyngby, who some may remember from the infamous snow game in the Brandywell in the mind 90s, have qualified through the Danish setup.
For players and fans alike, its a great time as you plan your trips abroad and sit around a laptop trying to work out the cheapest way to get to whatever far flung destination it is this year. English teams may complain about the Europa League and its Thursday nights, I love it! However you could save yourself the hassle by buying a ticket to the club’s draw and not only is your travel taken care of, you get to travel with the team.