With a recent stumble in form and results, the possibility of European football next season is by no means guaranteed and this has prompted Stuart Pearce to mull over the possibilty of entering the Inter-Toto next season to try and get a back door entry into the UEFA Cup should City fail to qualify by the more conventional route (likely to be a minimum of a seventh placed finish).
In recent seasons, English teams have shied away from competiting in the tournament due to the early start (mid-June) of the competition which tends to lead to more injuries and tiredness amongst the squad far earlier in the season. I believe that only Newcastle have actually entered this season and were knocked out in one of the latter rounds, with only Fulham around five years ago actually qualifying through to the UEFA Cup proper.
Previously, I was of the opinion that it is something that we should consider entering as why not treat the games as part of the usual pre-season preperations and maybe scale back on some of the less competitive games that are usually scheduled, but assuming that the first-team players are to be involved from the start (although the opposition we'd come across may not make that necessary) they would be back in training around a month earlier than usual and have less than a month off from the end of the previous season.
With the light squad that we are carrying at the moment, qualification for this seasons UEFA Cup (assuming we made the group stages) would have added a minimum of eight games onto the schedule which would surely impact negatively on League performances (and in turn results).
Add another half dozen or so Inter-Toto games on top of that and it is hard to argue how that would not impact on the league campaign.
My understanding is that Newcastle's participation in this seasons competition was solely down to financial reasons to generate revenue from a long run in the competition and given our current financial position it is more than likely that any serious consideration for entering is based upon that.
I guess though there is only one way to end the debate on whether or not to enter, and that is to actually qualify for European competition outright. Via winning the F.A. Cup preferably.
You're right - we were the only team to enter the competition this season. The reasoning behind it was simply that we needed to be in the UEFA Cup. We were unlucky in coming up against Deportivo La Coruna in the third round - a side that regularly graces the Champions' League, and certainly better than any of the sides either Bolton or Boro faced in their UEFA Cup group games.
If they're treated as warm-up games, with the hope that you might make it into the UEFA Cup proper, then it could be a good thing for City. I wouldn't bank on getting much revenue for the Intertoto itself - gates were pretty small, even with reduced ticket prices. Money only becomes a factor if you make it through.
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