Following Villarreal’s elimination from the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night, Ukrainian Premier League club Shektar Donetsk will now play in next season’s competition.
Liverpool came back from two goals down to win 3-2 that night, bringing the total score to 5-2. This means that the title this season will now be won by the club that has already qualified for the competition next season, with Manchester City and Real Madrid remaining in the competition.
Villarreal is seventh in La Liga and cannot participate in the Champions League next season. Their unprecedented win in this season’s championship would have given them an automatic ticket to next season’s competition as defensive champions regardless of their league position.
According to UEFA rules, if a club qualifies to compete in the usual manner (finishing in the required league places), it will forfeit its franchise as the reigning champion and be transferred to the higher-ranked national league which does not already exist. Live place in the group stage starting in September.
Ukraine is the league in question and before Russia invaded the country, Shakhtar Donetsk was topping the rankings. This would guarantee the club significant gains in terms of financial rewards for their participation in the tournament, which would certainly go to the rebuilding of the club.
Shktar Donetsk has been living in limbo for much of the war, as its main base in Donetsk has been under siege since 2014 by Russia. With the entire country currently at war, there is a question of how prepared they will be when next season comes around.
However, the prospect of playing in the Champions League will appreciate them. Their last appearance in 2019/20 earned them €43.1 million with the participation back along with a percentage of the TV rights.
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