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Irish League on course for huge rise up UEFA coefficient ranking as European success continues

 

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Partly thanks to James McLaughlin's late winner for Coleraine, the Irish League is going up through the European rankings.

Partly thanks to James McLaughlin's late winner for Coleraine, the Irish League is going up through the European rankings.

Partly thanks to James McLaughlin's late winner for Coleraine, the Irish League is going up through the European rankings.

The summer of European qualifiers is still in its infancy but already there have been victories for all three Irish League representatives.

Linfield, Glentoran and Coleraine have all secured progression through a round of UEFA competition and, along with the positive results, valuable coefficient ranking points.

In the four summers from 2015 to 2018, Irish League clubs had secured just six victories from 42 European games.

That's why only three sides are in European action this summer, as the league's European coefficient ranking dropped to 52nd of Europe's 55 domestic leagues - their lowest ever place.

Linfield's thrilling Europa League run last summer, coupled with progression for Ballymena United, Cliftonville and Crusaders, ensured that next season will see a return to four Irish League sides landing the UEFA cash bonanza but there was work still to be done to cement the league's place away from the bottom rungs of the coefficient ladder.

Already this summer, Linfield have won two games (one via walkover) to progress through the Champions League preliminary round while Glentoran and Coleraine's sealed respective Europa League successes over HB Torshavn and La Fiorita on Thursday.

That means that, in the live table, the Irish League has rocketed up nine places, from 49th to 40th in the coefficient rankings.

While there is still, of course, much European football to be played for the Northern Irish sides and those representing the 15 nations currently ranked below them, the early signs are positive.

If the Irish League could remain 40th in the rankings come the end of the season, it would be their highest coefficient since the 99/00 season, when they were also placed 40th.

The results so far have also been key to bringing more money into the local game with an estimated £1.61m set to be injected.

Thanks to Linfield's progress through the Champions League preliminary round, they are now due to land at least €770,000 (£690,000) in European prize money, based on last season's solidarity payments. That's after they earned €230,000 (£209k) for taking part in the preliminary round and added another €280,000 (£254k) for their first qualifying round tie against Legia Warsaw. Now entering the Europa League second qualifying round, they are due to land a further €260,000 (£236k).

Glentoran and Coleraine are set to land €460,000 (£413,000) each after their progression through the Europa League preliminary qualifying round.

Belfast Telegraph