West Brom beating Swansea gave fans new hope of a European spot, only to be all but dashed by the FA Cup draw 24 hours later, writes blogger Warren Stephens.
It would now appear that European qualification will be awarded to only the top five finishers in the Premier League, along with Capital One Cup winners Swansea and one of Millwall and Wigan Athletic, as an FA Cup finalist.
That would leave West Brom the unenviable and unlikely task of trying to overhaul Arsenal and Liverpool for fifth spot in order to qualify.
I, personally, feel a little bit disappointed about that. As an Albion supporter born in 1981, I was hallowed with tales of Red Star Belgrade and Valencia.
But trying to work out if three weeks’ dinner money would pay the coach fare to Salernitana in the Anglo-Italian Cup and a couple of pre-season trips are the closest I have come to experiencing the club in Europe.
I have heard a few fans suggest that Albion would be better off without it, there’s certainly an argument that teams who have competed in the Europa League invariably suffer a dip in league form.
However, I think if you give up on adventure in favour of finishing nth in the Premier League every year, then what is the point?
Perhaps a toxic by-product of competing in the greed league is that there really isn’t that much else anybody outside the top four or five teams can aim for, a different argument for another day perhaps.
I should make a point of saying this is no way an expression of disgruntlement, Albion and Europe were two words I never thought I would hear in the same sentence, once upon a time.
It just seems a shame that a more colourful reward might not await the club after what’s been an immense effort over the course of the season.
Off the pitch and Albion this week revealed a price freeze on season ticket prices for the forthcoming season. I, personally, see that as a wise move by the club and hopefully one which draws a few more supporters back.
One of the big disappointments for me this season has been that we’ve not sold out more games home and away despite the fantastic efforts of the players.
I remember playing Stoke in the old Third Division at home and having a crowd of just under 30,000, similarly the massive numbers we took to Portsmouth on the final day of the 1993-94 season when the football witnessed was desperate compared to what we see now.
In part the suffering attendances, certainly in relation to what you’d expect to see given the success we have enjoyed since, is understandable.
Football is a much more expensive commodity than it used to be, there are a lot of people out of work or on reduced hours.
Crucially, in my view, all Albion games are also widely accessible on internet streams and in pubs across the region.
There’s been talk of a maximum price being applied on Premier League tickets. I would, personally, like to see this, as any reduction in ticket prices needs to be applied across the board.
I think for a lot of Premier League clubs, gate receipts don’t represent a hugely significant percentage of their turnover. Certainly, in Albion’s case, TV money is worth a whole lot more.
Would it financially cripple clubs if they were forced to halve their ticket prices? Probably not.
The success in the Champions League of the German clubs- where ticket prices are significantly lower than in England- certainly suggests that gate receipts and success are not entirely correlated.
Manchester City are charging £24 for away supporters under 16 to get into our game at the Etihad Stadium in a few weeks, the same ticket in the home end is £11.
There might be an argument that City might try and balance the books with the onset of FFFP on the horizon.
But if you consider that aligning the prices in the away end to those in the home end - adult and junior - would cost City around five weeks wages for Carlos Tevez over the course of a season, then it’s difficult not to be profoundly sickened by it.
Onto Saturday’s game and it’s that lot from Staffordshire again. No not that lot, the other lot- Stoke. Ever since the days of Nigel Gleghorn, Vince Overson and Mark Stein, I have dreaded this game.
Although in recent seasons, we have looked far more likely to beat them away than we have at home.
Perhaps on their own ground, there’s more of an onus on Stoke to play further up the pitch and open up than there is when they traditionally stop us from playing when they come to The Hawthorns, something which is much more likely to suit us.
They are on a horrendous run at the moment and I certainly don’t feel as apprehensive as I have in recent seasons. If we start well and get in front, then who knows?
Certainly a repeat of last year’s fantastic last-gasp winner would be well received. Come on you Baggies!