Why Europa League May Have To Re-Think Their Final Venues From Now On

The UEFA doesn't seem to understand the impact of a particular change regarding the outcome of the Europa League final. Via their own website, the UEFA explained the issue.

"This season was the first where the winners of the previous UEFA Europa League gained automatic entry into the UEFA Champions League, Sevilla taking that berth despite finishing fifth in Spain. That meant Spain had a record five teams in the UEFA Champions League group stage this time around."
Sevilla was then knocked down to the Europa League, where it fought its way back to the final. The plan, no doubt, is to take advantage of a glorious do-over and get back to the Champion's League. Standing in their way is Liverpool FC, the only English team remaining in contention for a European trophy.
Liverpool has delivered some amazing performances in the Europa League, beating opponents previously declared favorites to win the competition. The only thing standing in the Merseyside team's way is Sevilla -- a side that is attempting a record-breaking three Europa League victories in a row.

Many expect it to be an intense, must-see game. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of football fans won't be able to see it. The Europa League final will be held in Basel, Switzerland. The chosen venue is FC Basel's St. Jakob-Park, which has a maximum capacity of 35,000.

Many believe that Liverpool fans alone could fill the stadium -- and it still wouldn't represent enough spaces for fans desperate to witness the Red's first final in nine years.

A little over 10,000 tickets were made available exclusively to the English team's supporters. Sevilla fans will receive about the same, although some feel the Spanish side will have quite a few tickets left over. Ticket scarcity has many frustrated at the UEFA's choice of venue.

BBC Sport reports that the UEFA has spoken out against criticism, staunchly defending its choice of St. Jakob-Park as the site of the Europa League final.

"Of course, it is impossible to predict in advance which clubs will reach the final. Europe's largest stadiums are usually selected to host the Champions League final, and UEFA tends to select slightly smaller, top-quality venues for the Europa League final."
This thinking is going to have to stop because the Europa League is no longer just the Europa League: it's the golden ticket to the Champions League for teams who risk missing the competition via their domestic leagues.

The UEFA's Europa League has been looked down on for so long that this reality didn't even seem to enter the minds of UEFA members. They failed to guess why defending champions Sevilla stormed back through the knockout competition. They neglected to consider why Liverpool delivered some of the most amazing matches in the Europa League's history.

The Europa League title itself hasn't meant much for some time, but a spot in the Champion's League does. How the UEFA missed that is beyond any football fan who handily predicted that at least one noteworthy team would make it to the final. And now they're trying to justify buying a too-small venue using logic that is no longer sensible.

There isn't a Champions League team in contention who wouldn't want another game into this highly glorified competition. Having a Europa League cup as "insurance" should there be a shaky finish for third or fourth can't be anything but a good thing. This will inspire desperation, competition, drama.

In other words, all the things we saw in the late stages of this year's UEFA Europa League competition. This very first year where the Sevilla squad went through to the Champions League as a reward.

We can only hope that the UEFA opts for at least a 50,000-seat stadium next year. The Europa League competition is about to get more interesting than they realize -- although it may take a couple of years for members of the UEFA to realize it.

[Photo by Simon Hofmann/Getty Images]