Southampton will play in Europe for the second time in 30 years or 12 seasons after Arsenal won the FA Cup and it gave the Saints a Europa League spot. Southampton, who came seventh in the Premier League, qualify as Arsenal had already secured their Champions League place by finishing third in the league.
With the Gunners having already reached the Champions League by virtue of their league position, their Europa League spot for winning the FA Cup goes to the next highest-placed Premier League side. Southampton, who came seventh in the Premier League, qualify as Arsenal had already secured their Champions League place by finishing third in the league.
Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup final on Saturday means the Saints are rewarded for finishing the Premier League season in seventh place with a slightly earlier start to 2015-16.
“I think to sum it up in one word is proud. The feeling of finishing seventh and being in a European competition – the only word I can use is proud,” club captain Kelvin Davis told Southampton’s official website. “I’m proud of my team-mates, proud of the club and proud of what everyone has achieved. To be a club like Southampton and progress as we have done, to me it’s the natural next step to qualify for European competition.”
Ronald Koeman’s side will enter the Europa League at the third qualifying round stage, needing to win two two-legged matches to qualify for the group stages of the competition. They join Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham, the teams who are qualified via UEFA’s fair play league, as England’s representatives in next season’s Europa League.
“I think we’ve progressed year on year and for us to finish seventh in the Premier League ahead of so many fantastic football clubs to put ourselves in this position warranted the opportunity to play in Europe,” expressed the captain.
The draw for the third qualifying round will take place on Friday, 17th July in Nyon, Switzerland. Southampton’s first competitive game of the 2015-16 season will now be on 30 July, before the second leg on 6 August. The Premier League season begins on 8 August.
“We needed Arsenal to win the cup but at the same time that position of seventh is what has given us the opportunity. We’re very excited and looking forward to the prospect of playing in the Europa League next year. But we’ve still got a hurdle to come across and that’s what we’ll be focusing on,” added Kelvin Davis.