Liverpool were hit for six at Stoke City, leaving Brendan Rodgers’ side finishing the season in sixth place – which could mean their competitive season will start in Jul, which would also affect the schedule for the new Main Stand expansion.
It’s the competition nobody wants to be in, let alone have to play qualifying games for it before the season even begins, but Liverpool will be playing Europa League football next season and it will begin in July.
Finishing fifth in the Premier League would have meant an automatic spot in Europe’s second-tier competition and a first Europa League game in mid-September. Liverpool’s defeat at Stoke means that place goes to Tottenham.
Instead, Brendan Rodgers’ side now enter in the third qualifying round, with the first leg on July 30th – just six days after playing a friendly in Malaysia. The second leg is a week later on August 6th – two days before the Premier League season starts on the 8th.
Liverpool’s first Premier League game of the new season will therefore be on Sunday 9th August.
Win the Europa qualifier and they’ll then be in the final play-off round, which takes place on August 20th and 27th.
All this means Liverpool will be unable to schedule as many pre-season friendlies as they would have typically and it’s also a setback for the club’s Main Stand expansion schedule as the Europa qualifier means less time for work over the summer.
The Reds requested to end this season away from Anfield and start next season away again in order to allow for more time over the summer to work on the stadium.
Without the Europa commitments, LFC’s first game back at Anfield would have been the second Premier League game of the season, instead it will be a fortnight earlier.
UDPATE: UEFA have published the following update:
Tottenham Hotspur FC have sealed a return to the UEFA Europa League group stage by finishing fifth. The other two places will be determined by Saturday’s FA Cup final. If Arsenal FC win then Liverpool FC take a group stage berth and Southampton FC, who ended seventh, enter the third qualifying round; if Aston Villa FC win then they take the group stage spot and Liverpool enter in the third qualifying round.
July 17 – Friendly vs Brisbane Roar
July 20 – Friendly vs Adelaide United
July 24 – Friendly vs Malaysia XI (in Kuala Lumpur)
July 30 – Europa League 3rd qualifying round, first leg
August 6 – Europa League 3rd qualifying round, second leg
August 8 – New Premier League season begins
August 9 – Liverpool first game of PL season on Sunday, due to EL qualifier
August 20 – Europa League play-off, first leg
August 27 – Europa League play-off, first leg