The UEFA Cup Draw and mighty Ipswich Town

… or “Ipswich Town better than Sampdoria, it’s official”.

United avoid the big hitters

Newcastle United will avoid some of Europe’s big names in this morning’s Uefa Cup draw after being named among the competition’s top seeds.

The Journal

This seems like a reasonable idea, given that we’re top seeds and we officially rank as the 18th best club in Europe. Until you find out exactly who we have been drawn against…

  • Celta Vigo
  • Palermo
  • Fenerbahçe
  • Eintracht Frankfurt

Bugger. They all sound like pretty big clubs. How did we manage to get drawn against all of them then, if we were top seeds? Well, it’s because UEFA’s seeding system, while open, honest and transparent, does not always accurately reflect how good teams actually are because teams which repeatedly qualify for Europe will (e.g. the top two or three teams in uncompetitive leagues) will generally rank higher than teams who only occassionally qualify for Europe but play in leagues to a very high standard. Just look at the rankings:

  • Celta Vigo — ranked as the 49th best club in Europe.
  • Palermo — ranked as the 64th best club in Europe.
  • Fenerbahçe — ranked as the 89th best club in Europe.
  • Eintracht Frankfurt — not specifically listed so ranked as “default German club” in 144th spot.

What makes the rankings so strange is that officially Ipswich Town — to whom I mean no disrespect by this — are ranked in 68th place and are therefore considered to be a better European club then either Fenerbahçe or Eintracht Frankfurt (and Espanyol, Galatasaray and Sampdoria for that matter). Are you sure?

Thanks to Bert Kassies for his UEFA European Cup Football site. All rankings were taken from the UEFA Team Rankings 2006 page.

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