What the UEFA is going on?
OK, let me clarify the situation: Everton are likely to gain something from their remaining games with Newcastle, Arsenal then Bolton. Liverpool v Arsenal is hard for me to predict. Wishing for a win all the same, and respecting Gooner TS, Arsenal are finding good form at home. Villa at home could be a good win. But Everton, despite their blip at Fulham, seem strong enough to get the results they need, so they are likely to hold 4th spot. Such a shame but Liverpool's inconsistency has been cumbersome.
Despite the possibility of winning the Champions League, being out of the top four places will mean UEFA rules keeps us out of next season's campaign. So much for the decision being eventually in the hands of our F.A. To reiterate that said by Sunil, and Phil Thompson on Sky Sports News, I'd forfeit 4th place for the trophy. It would be very cutting to be beaten finalists and not be in it come 2005/2006.
Personally, I find that the possibility of UEFA looking at revising the rules regarding these circumstances is scant consolation. Why 2005/2006? Why not now? Bring talks forward and make a decision, in such an important issue, at least for the fans. Evertonians want the big league, everyone wants the Champions League, by any virtue. But impartially, I say Liverpool, if they win in Istanbul, should be allowed to defend the trophy, and Everton go into the UEFA Cup.
Why? Considering how long Everton have taken to even rise up the table, much less be in a position to experience European football again, after some 25 years, I think they should take the UEFA Cup campaign. At least then they can use the experience if they go on in the season to qualify for the Champions League. Also, considering Liverpool have gotten so far as the final, after coming back from 0-1 against Olympiakos, needing 3 goals and winning 3-1, avenging our previous defeat by Bayer Leverkusen 6-2, and beating a strong title-winning side like Chelsea, it does seem harsh.
However, Everton would be doing a favour for Liverpool, which the Toffees wouldn't want to do, unofficially. And the difference in revenue between the two European competitions would also deter Everton from choosing the UEFA Cup. Why should they forfeit the chance to be in the Champions League, since they have been better than the others to be in 4th place? Their rise under David Moyes has been something tremendous, and such credit deserves the reward.
It is such a dilemma - Liverpool qualify as winners or Everton as 4th placed (what if Liverpool was somewhere like 8th place right now???). Of course UEFA stick hard to their rules, and that's fair enough. But why has there been loose talk of our F.A. making a decision, UEFA considering the revision, NOW, when the issue is still a grey area where the interests of both sides clash, as a result of their own respective achievements during the season?
I don't agree the rules are fair, and that is in regard to any two teams. Certainly the precedent of Real Madrid and Real Zaragoza in 2000 wasn't fair. Zaragoza earned their place and saw it forfeited for winners Real Madrid. Zaragoza get to play in the UEFA Cup but that was minor consolation.
The right decision, IMO, is to have an extra place available. Does another football association have to lose a place as a result? UEFA cannot reserve such a place at no-one's expense, such a high-thinking association as they are?
This is such a grey area why UEFA must be considering a revision, because it isn't simple for them to say 'Rules are rules - sorry, they won't change now.' It always seem simple to revert to rules when you feel pressure on you to make a decision that affects a number of passionate people. Then one can say 'Sorry, really sorry, it's not my decision - it's in the rules.' The sake of two teams who wish to go to perform in the highest football tournament in Europe are at risk. One wants to experience, the other wants to defend their win. Both deserve to go on to do so.
After Real Madrid/Zaragoza, UEFA should have looked into this possible circumstance happening again and implement fair rules on what to do if or when it does. The reality of this happening is very, very little, therefore I would opt for a play-off between the two teams. This idea has been mentioned on EFT before, and I feel it would be the fairest way to decide who goes on through to play in the competition.