The crazy list of clubs Chelsea could face in next season's Europa Conference League

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The Blues are set to make their debut in the competition in 2024/25

Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. After all, who even wants to be in the Europa League anyways? Wouldn’t you much rather be clattering about in the Conference League, pestling Transylvanian minnows indiscriminately, clocking up air miles like Taylor Swift’s private pilot, collecting stamps in your passport with away days in Georgia, Kazakhstan, Narnia?

Last weekend, Chelsea qualified for Europe’s second competition. This weekend, they were unceremoniously ousted from it. Manchester United’s unexpected FA Cup triumph toppled the first tile in a domino train of disappointment, with the Blues relegated to the continent’s kooky attic cousin of a tournament, and Newcastle United missing out on another foray into European football entirely. Punches rarely come much suckier than that.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But the footballing hipster within can’t help musing on whether or not this may actually be quite a good thing for Chelsea. In recent days, the projected pots for next season’s Conference League have been doing the rounds online, and a quick glance brings with it a couple of realisations. Firstly, the Blues should be strong favourites to win the whole affair. Beyond the likes of Stade Rennais, Fiorentina, and Real Betis, there are few, if any clubs who one might reasonably expect to cause them any meaningful headaches. Secondly, there are more than a few quirky little side quests to be completed along the way.

The further down the list of participants you read, the more unhinged things become. In Pot Four, for instance, you have Irish outfit Shamrock Rovers and Welsh club The New Saints. In Pot Five, Scottish interests are represented by Hearts - a club Chelsea have never played before. Elsewhere in the fifth pot, you also have the likes of Bosnian champions Borac Banja Luka, formed by People's Hero of Yugoslavia, Veselin Masleša and committed to fighting for workers’ rights (Borac quite literally translates to ‘fighter’); Georgian heavy hitters Dinamo Batumi, still coming to terms with the loss of talismanic Brazilian (and possible Pokemon) Flamarion; while in Pot Six we have newly-crowned Polish kings, and a Scrabble player’s dream, Jagiellonia Białystok, anointed domestically for the very first time in their history this season.

None quite measure up to the wondrous eccentricity of Icelandic side Vikingur Reykjavik, though. Formed by a bunch of schoolboys in 1908, losing only one game in their first decade of existence, and formerly the home of Arnór Guðjohnsen, father of Eiður, the Vikings currently playing in a stadium with a capacity of around 1,450, and feel like a perfect encapsulation of what makes the Conference League such a brilliant proposition. Where else could Chelsea ever rub shoulders with clubs of that ilk and such buckshot whimsy? Vikingur Reykjavik are like a Wes Anderson film in real life.

Because really, that is the point at hand here; the Conference League might not be as illustrious as the Europa League, and the logistical havoc may feel like more hassle than it is worth at times, but when all is said and done, it can still be bloody good fun. Just ask West Ham.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.