The top European football competitions are blessed with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Wigan Athletic whoa just stop there folks, Wigan Athletic ?
Well for those of you living outside of the ancient & loyal borough of Wigan let me educate you that our “local team” is about to make its debut in one of UEFA’s elite competitions.
After the much deserved victory against Manchester City on that glorious day at Wembley, Latics will be “in the hat” in one months’ time on August 30th to see who their first ever competitive European game is against.
WAFC have been exempt from the tedious qualifying rounds thanks to winning the 2013 FA.Cup and are straight into the league section of the Europa League, folk may say it’s not the Champions League version but jealousy is such a nasty trait.
Yes rival fans will scoff about our relegation, about the empty seats (boring lazy journalism by the way, but let’s not let facts get in the way on a slow news day eh ?) about little club syndrome, don’t deserve it moans etc, etc the list is nigh on endless.
As we have repeatedly said here at This Northern Soul, Wigan Athletic are making their history before our disbelieving eyes, a steady rise up thro’ the leagues from 1978 when Ian Gillibrand led my club onto the Edgar Street pitch for our first ever league game.
Years upon years of lobbying the “old school” football league administrators to vote us in had finally been achieved and now just thirty six years later we are about to embark on another remarkable chapter in the clubs history.
Until one of Michel François Platini’s employees draws our ball out of the large glass egg cup we won’t know who our opponents will be, it doesn’t really matter we’ll take it all in our stride.
Matchday 1 in the Group stage will be 19th September and to say a tear in the eye and bursting with pride will be probably be a vast understatement on that day as the captain of Wigan Athletic Football Club leads his teammates out for the very first time . . . . . “in Europe”
The t&c’s from UEFA…..
The play-off round winners join the ten losers from the UEFA Champions League play-offs and automatic entrants. The clubs are split into 12 groups of four teams, playing home and away against each of their pool opponents between September and December. Two sides from each section advance, proceeding into the round of 32 alongside eight third-placed teams from the UEFA Champions League group stage.
From the last 32 until the semi-finals, clubs play two games against each other on a home-and-away basis with the same rules as the qualifying and play-off rounds applied. In the last 32, group winners and the four third-placed sides from the UEFA Champions League with the best records are seeded, guaranteeing they will play the second leg at home. Teams from the same group or the same association cannot be drawn together. From the round of 16 onwards the draw is free.
The final is decided by a single match, which this season will be played at the Juventus Arena, Turin on Wednesday 14 May 2014.
Ian Gillibrand WAFC Captain 1978
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