West Ham United will discover our potential UEFA Europa Conference League play-off round opponents on Tuesday afternoon.
The draw will be made at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland, from 1pm BST, with 22 play-off round ties to be drawn, including one involving David Moyes’ Hammers.
Having finished seventh in the Premier League in 2021/22, the Irons will enter the UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL) for the first time and will be the only English club taking part in the tournament at this stage.
The Hammers, of course, went all the way to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals this season, topping a group containing Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia, Rapid Vienna of Austria and Genk of Belgium with a game to spare, knocking out Sevilla of Spain and Olympique Lyonnais of France in the round of 16 and quarter-finals respectively, before ultimately losing to eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt of Germany in the last four.
Introduced last season, the UECL was won by Roma of Italy last season, when José Mourinho’s side defeated Feyenoord of the Netherlands 1-0 in the final in the Albanian capital Tirana.
What is the UEFA Europa Conference League?
The third tier of active European club football competitions, after the Champions League and the Europa League, the UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL) was introduced at the start of the 2021/22 season.
Contested by 177 teams from UEFA’s 54 member associations (Russian clubs are currently excluded from UEFA competitions), three qualifying rounds and one play-off round will see them whittled down to 32 by the group stage.
As in the Europa League, the eight group winners will go through directly to the round of 16, with the eight group runners-up going through to a preliminary knockout round, where they will face a third-place group-stage finisher from the Europa League.
From there, the competition follows a two-legged knockout format all the way to the final, which will be hosted at Slavia Prague’s Sinobo Stadium in the Czech Republic on 7 June next year.
What can you tell us about the play-off round?
As mentioned above, 44 teams will take part in the two-legged play-off round, with the draw being held on Tuesday 2 August 2022 and the two legs being played on Thursdays 18 and 25 August.
The 44 will include 32 third qualifying round winners and seven clubs eliminated from the Europa League third qualifying round, along with five teams who have qualified directly to this stage – West Ham, Villarreal of Spain, Fiorentina of Italy, Cologne of Germany and Nice of France.
The 44 will be split into two ‘Paths’ – ten on the Champions Path and 34 on the Main Path. We are on the Main Path.
The teams are then seeded in accordance with the UEFA club coefficient rankings (CC) and ‘grouped’ before being drawn.
So, who could we be drawn against in the play-off round?
The ‘grouped’ teams were revealed on Monday, and seeded West Ham now know we will face the unseeded winners of one of these five third qualifying round ties.
Paide Linnameeskond (EST) v Anderlecht (BEL)
Wolfsberger AC (AUT) v Gżira United (MLT)
Riga (LVA) v Gil Vicente (POR)
AIK (SWE) v KF Shkëndija (MKD)
Viborg (DEN) v B36 Tórshavn (FRO)
The third qualifying round will be played over the next two weeks, with second-leg ties involving West Ham’s potential opponents being completed on Tuesday 9 August and Thursday 11 August.
When the play-off round draw is made on Tuesday 2 August, as a seeded club we will be randomly assigned a number between 1-5 and a ball containing our number placed in a bowl alongside the other four. The same will be done with the five unseeded clubs, numbered 6-10.
A ball will be taken from each both and placed in an empty bowl and shuffled. The first ball drawn out will designate the home team for the first leg on Thursday 18 August.
What happens if we win in the play-off round?
Should we win the two-legged play-off round tie, we will join 21 other UECL play-off round winners and ten clubs eliminated from the Europa League play-off round in the group stage.
There, we will face three group-stage opponents home and away.
The UECL will then take a break until the New Year, kicking-off with the preliminary knockout round in February and round of 16 in March.
What are the round dates?
18 & 25 August 2022
8 September 2022: Matchday 1
15 September 2022: Matchday 2
6 October 2022: Matchday 3
13 October 2022: Matchday 4
27 October 2022: Matchday 5
3 November 2022: Matchday 6
Should we progress as group winners, we will not play again until March in the round of 16. Should we progress as group runners-up, we will take on a UEFA Europa League third-place group-stage finisher in a preliminary knockout round in February.
16 & 23 February 2023: Preliminary knockout round
9 & 16 March 2023: Round of 16
13 & 20 April 2023: Quarter-finals
11 & 18 May 2023: Semi-finals
7 June 2023: Final (Sinobo Stadium, Prague, Czech Republic)