Bala, Airbus and Newtown will partake on a European adventure in the Europa League first round qualifying round.
Although the final game of the Welsh Premier League season was only played last month – the Welsh Premier League European representatives will be looking forward to the new season and the European ties ahead.
On Monday the 22 of June the first round draw will take place, with 102 teams entering at the inaugural stage of the competition. The seeded sides will face the non-seeded teams – with the full list of sides shown below.
The Welsh Premier League representatives are Bala Town, Airbus UK Broughton and Newtown AFC.
The first round of the Europa League qualifiers will be played over two legs, with the first tie played on the 2nd of July and the second tie on the 9th of July.
History in Europ.
Bala clinched a second place finish on the final game of last season’s Welsh Premier League – entitling them to a place in this season’s Europa League qualifying rounds. This will be the second time Bala have competed in any European competition.
Bala’s first European campaign – sealed after beating Port Talbot 1-0 in the Welsh Premier League play-off final in 2013 – was a first round Europa League qualifier in the 2013/14 season, losing to FC Levadia Tallinn of Estonia in the 3-2 over two legs.
Airbus have competed regularly in the Europa League qualifying rounds since 2013, with Andy Preece successfully guiding the side to second place in the Welsh Premier League in 2012/13 and 2013/14.
Fortunately for Airbus, as The New Saints completed a domestic treble allowing Airbus a place in this seasons Europa League qualifying rounds.
In 2013 Airbus were unlucky losing through away goals in a 1-1 draw over two legs with FK Ventpils from Latfia. Also, in 2014 Airbus lost 3-2 to FK Haugesund of Norway over two legs.
This season will be Newtown’s first appearance in European since 1996 – after successfully gaining qualification to the first round of Europa League qualifiers by beating Aberystwyth 2-1 in the Welsh Premier League Play-off final.
The last time the Robins played in Europ was in 1996/97, against Skonto Riga (Latfia) – losing 7-1 over two legs and in
1998/99, losing to Wisla Krakow (Gwlad Pwyl) – 7-0 over two legs.
First Round Giants
West Ham United (England)
West Ham United’s name will be in the hat for the first round Europa League qualifying round after topping the fair play league. The last time The Hammers competed in European competition they lost 4-0 to Palmero of Italy in the UEFA Cup.
The East London Club have had major success in European competitions. Bobby Moore lifted the 1965 European Cup Winners Cup at Wembley – by beating 1860 Muncih 2-0.
West Ham also reached the Cup winners Cup final again in 1976 – although losing to Anderlecht at the Heysel Stadium, Brussels in a 4-2 loss.
Under Harry Redknapp’s management, West Ham won the 1999 Intertoto Cup by beating Metz 3-2 over two legs.
With the recent appointment of fan favorite, Slaven Bilić as manager – along with the names such as Andy Carrol, Enner Valencia and Welshman James Collins – West Ham will be one of the favorites reach the Europa League group stages.
Red Star Belgrade (Serbia)
One of European football’s greats – Red Star Belgrade have won the Champions League (or European Cup as it was know) in 1991, beating Marsaille on Penalties in Bari, Italy. They have also reached the semi-final of the competition on two other occasions, losing to Fiorentina in 1957 and Panathanikos in 1971.
Along with reaching the European Cup final – Red Star have also gone to the UEFA cup final in 1979 – although losing 2-1 to Borussia Mönchengladbach of Almaen.
With an energetic and intimidating atmosphere from the ‘Delije’, the home fans at the Rajko Mitić stadium – which holds up to 60,000 spectators – this support might be crucial for the Belgrade side, as they have stuggled to qualify for the Europa League group stages in recent years.
For more information on the Europa League qualifying rounds visit http://kassiesa.home.xs4all.nl/bert/uefa/
Full list of first round teams:
West Ham United
NK Rosenborg BK
Go Ahead Eagles
Red Star Belgrade
Vojvodina Novi Sad
FC Beroe Stara Zagora
St. Patrick’s Athletic
Saxan Gagauz Yeri
Uni College Dublin
Airbus UK Broughton