The New Saints will begin their 2014/2015 European adventure in the UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying round.
UEFA confirmed on Monday that, ‘In the UEFA access list for the 2014/15 edition, 22 teams gain automatic access to the group stage. That would include the holders if they had not already earned their place through their national league, but since Madrid finished third in Spain, like all the semi-finalists ensuring qualification, that opened up one more slot. That was to go to the champions of the nation ranked 13th in the UEFA club coefficients, Switzerland, meaning title winners Basel, will avoid the need for a play-off.’
UEFA added that, ”Also benefiting will be Austrian champions FC Salzburg, who advanced from the second qualifying round to the third. Meanwhile, both Cliftonville FC of Northern Ireland and The New Saints FC of Wales will now begin in the second qualifying round rather than first.’
In all, six teams will enter the First Qualifying round, including Gibraltar’s debut entry Lincoln Red Imps, with the three winners joining the 31 others in the Second Qualifying round. Those teams will all be in the champions route, the 17 advancing clubs mixing in with the champions of Austria (Salzburg), Denmark (Aalborg BK) and Cyprus (tbc) in the third qualifying round, those 20 teams reduced to five group contenders after the play-offs.
Fifteen more sides go via the league round, with ten starting in the third qualifying round. The teams finishing third in Italy (SSC Napoli) and Portugal (FC Porto), and fourth in Germany (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), England (Arsenal FC) and Spain (Athletic Club), await the winners in the play-offs, which will fill the last five spots in the 32-club group stage.