Latest News

Conference call

A week has passed since‘s guide to next season’s UEFA Conference League was unveiled and, while there are a host of vagaries and permutations still in play, the picture is at least marginally clearer when it comes to pinpointing Cliftonville’s potential second qualifying round opponents.

It is, however, important to remember that – with the exception of Crusaders and Linfield – the Reds could conceivably be paired with the majority of teams from the first qualifying round, while a raft of defeated sides from the opening phase of the Europa League must also be taken into consideration.

In that context, it’s therefore fair to assume that we remain quite some distance from narrowing the field. There are still 28 Seeded spots up for grabs, but recent days have thrown up a few interesting developments, including Latvian first qualifying round entrants Valmiera being replaced by Liepaja over a licencing dispute, while two of Cliftonville’s former European foes have now formally entered the equation.

AEK Larnaca, who registered a 5-2 aggregate success over the Reds in the Europa League back in 2016 (above), finished level on points with APOEL at the top of the Cypriot First Division, missing out on the title on their head-to-head record and therefore assuming Seeded status in the second qualifying round of the Conference League.

DAC, who inflicted defeat on Cliftonville just two years ago (below), finished runners-up in the Slovakian Nike Liga but currently assume Unconfirmed Seeding categorisation, as do the Scottish Premiership’s representatives, St Mirren.

Vying for a Seeded berth – and, by extension, the possibility of being drawn against Cliftonville – are the winners of the Dutch Eredivisie Play-Offs, where Go Ahead Eagles, NEC, Sparta Rotterdam and Utrecht will do battle throughout this week, while our 2007 Intertoto Cup opponents KAA Gent (below) will face off against one of Cercle Brugge, Genk or Antwerp in the Final of the Belgian equivalent early next month.

Besiktas join Basaksehir and Kasimpasa in the running for Turkey’s second qualifying phase spot, while yesterday’s final round of fixtures in the Greek Super League saw AEK Athens and Olympiacos confirm their places.

With so much still up in the air, it’s worth keeping a daily check on our regularly updated European Guide, which simplifies all the ifs, buts and maybes as various Leagues and Cup competitions across the continent reach their conclusions in the coming weeks.