The South Essex Football League side Southend United will be playing in the 2018/2019 UEFA Champions League after the European footballing body made a ‘catastrophic admin error’ that will see Tottenham Hotspur miss out on a place.
A spokesperson for UEFA has confirmed that they are now legally obliged to offer The Shrimpers a place in the group stages that begin in September.
A source said, ‘In the week leading up to the Champions League final, it is customary for invitations to be sent out to every team who has qualified for the following season’s competition, with two invites left in a ‘pending’ stage until the final has been completed.’
‘This job is usually left to the Secretary of Enrolments Jerome Robsonne, but on this occasion he was called away to an urgent meeting and the paperwork was left on his desk.’
‘We have a number of students doing work experience here from Southend College of Leisure and Tourism, and it appears that one of them just picked up a blank form, ticked the box that said ‘group stage’ and sent it to Roots Hall.’
‘The UEFA Constitution clearly states in Section 13, Point 12, ‘All invitations to trans-European competitions are irrevocable’ – this means that Southend United will enter the competition no matter what happens.’
‘Because of this incident, the other four English teams in the tournament were put into a hat, and one of them was selected at random to be removed.’
‘Tottenham Hotspur will therefore enter the Europa League preliminary extra first qualifying round, where they will meet one of RJG Ostanostafoongalundens, Sporting Crawley or Spartak Plonk.’