Tottenham’s Europa Conference League prospects appear quite grim as they await UEFA’s ruling, but there is a tacit reason Europe’s governing might favour the north London club.
Logic and history, as both Spurs and Vitesse await UEFA’s decision on which team advances to play Rapid Wien in a home-and-home knockout test, favours Vitesse. If Spurs are adjudged to have had 13 healthy players prior to the cancelled Rennes match, the north London side should, in theory, forfeit the match, and with it lose any hope of advancing in the competition.
Other factors, however, deeply complicate the matter, including Rennes’ unwillingness to reschedule along with the wider implications of a Covid-19 outbreak and its propensity to spread between teams.
There is another factor that might influence UEFA’s decision. While it might be grasping at straws, surely UEFA will take into account, behind closed doors and away from the media spotlight, the financial pitfall of eliminating a side of Tottenham’s worldwide notoriety.
Eliminating Tottenham would negatively impact UEFA’s revenue stream and the competition’s substance for the remainder of the inaugural tournament.
In terms of brand clout and global prominence, there is no comparison between Vitesse and Tottenham. It’ like David vs Goliath with the latter on a regular dose of steroids. Tottenham’s advancement will bring increased revenue from multiple sources, including TV viewership numbers and ticket sales, to name just two.
Tottenham’s inclusion in the knockout stage would also increase the profile of an otherwise unknown European tournament. It’s UEFA’s first foray into a third-tier competition. And let’s be honest. They’ll need as much help as they can get to elevate the Europa Conference League’s profile.
Tottenham, finalists in the Champions League just two years ago, provides UEFA with a high-profile team to help put the Europa Conference League on the map. I’m not saying Spurs are in the same realm as juggernauts like Real Madrid, PSG or Manchester City, but the north London club’s popularity and brand clout dwarves any of the other remaining teams in the competition.
Am I saying that UEFA has the capacity to act in an immoral, underhanded, even corrupt way? Absolutely. Just look at FIFA’s track record and tell me it’s not at least a possibility for UEFA to, at least privately, put the bottom line first.
Some will say it’s a conspiracy theory that doesn’t deserve the light of day, while others will see the potential of such an unthinkable, immoral decision coming to pass. Even if Spurs do win the right to play Rapid Wien in late February, nobody will ever know if this controversial, unethical, even illegal, reason contributed to UEFA’s eventual decision.
Or maybe I just conjured up a fantasy to convince myself Spurs are still in with a shot to advance.