Yesterday in Nyon, the draw took place for the Champions League and Europa League qualifiers kicking off next month.
Danske Bank Premiership champions Linfield drew Norwegian side Rosenborg BK who have finished in the top three in Eliteserien league for the last 10 seasons, winning the title five times including last season. However they are currently in 9th position in the top division, their worse performance in the last decade so Linfield who are in excellent form could potentially sail through this first round of qualifiers. Linfield host Rosenborg at home on Tuesday 9th July with the second leg in Norway the following week.
David Healy’s side is guaranteed to pocket at least €800k from their Champions League campaign which will see them play a minimum of four matches. If Linfield progress from the first qualifying round they are in for a €920k payday. Even if they lose to the Norwegian giants they could have an easier time in the Europa League , where it is likely they will play HB Torshavn and a win from this would see them bank just over 1 million euro!
Last year’s Danske Bank winners, Crusaders FC will face B36 Torshavn in the first qualifying round of the Europa League. The Crus have qualified for European football every season for the last ten years. Finishing fourth in the Premiership this season meant they missed out on qualifying for the Champions League and therefore reduced their ability for a large pay day. However they will bank a minimum of 240k and if they can beat the Faroe Island Premiership team they will pocket approx half a million euro. Crusaders have a better record in European football, progressing to the second round of Champions League and Europa League five times more than the Faroe Island’s outfit. If Crusaders see of B36 Torshavn they will meet English Premiership side Wolves who finished in seventh place behind Man United this season. This would undoubtedly be a sold out home leg and a real goal to aim for, for Stephen Baxter’s squad.
Ballymena United and Cliftonville must negotiate Europa League preliminary round ties in order to progress to the first qualifying round. Ballymena finished as runners up in the Danske Premiership this season and this is the second time they have qualified for European football in the last three seasons. They were beaten by Norwegian side Odds Ballklubb in the first qualifying round in the 2017/2018 season. Ballymena are at home to NSI Runavik in the first leg of their preliminary round tie on the 27th of June, with the return leg away on the 4th of July. David Jeffrey’s side has a good chance at beating the Faroe Island’s side. If they progress they will next face Swedish champions Malmo, but this will be a very difficult tie to win.
Cliftonville will travel to Wales to face Barry Town in the first leg of their opening Europa League tie on the 27th of June, with the return leg at Solitude a week later. This is the first time their Welsh opponents have qualified for European football in fifteen years, Clifttonville’s last European football appearance was five years ago where they were beaten by Celtic in both legs in the Champions League second qualifying round. Cliftonville will pocket over 200k euro for their opening round but could bank 500k euro if they can progress and play Norwegian side Haugesund.
Win or lose the Irish League teams set to bank a minimum of £1.3 up to and above £2 million!
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