Northern Irish football clubs in European competition
Northern Irish football clubs have participated in European football competitions since 1957, when in the 1957–58 season, Glenavon took part in the European Cup – the first Northern Irish club to do so. In total, 16 different clubs have represented Northern Ireland in European competition.
All statistics and records are accurate as of 24 July 2014.
- 1 History
- 2 Statistics
- 3 Appearances in UEFA competitions
- 4 Active competitions
- 5 Defunct competitions
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Currently, the NIFL Premiership champions qualify for the UEFA Champions League, with the runners-up and third-placed clubs qualifying for the UEFA Europa League. The Irish Cup winners also qualify for the Europa League. If, however, the cup winners have already qualified for Europe by finishing third or higher in the league, the Europa League place goes to the league's fourth-placed club.
Only the league champions have ever represented Northern Ireland in the European Cup/Champions League. Glenavon were the first team ever to represent Northern Ireland in any of the four competitions, when in the first round of the 1957–58 European Cup they played out a 0–0 draw against Danish side AGF in Aarhus, Denmark on 11 September 1957. They played the home leg two weeks later, losing 3–0. In the 1959–60 season, Linfield became the first Northern Irish club to win a match in the competition, in what was their first ever European Cup match. They defeated Swedish side Göteborg 2–1 at Windsor Park on 9 September 1959, however two weeks later they lost the away leg 6–1 which meant that they lost the tie 7–3 on aggregate. Linfield hold the record of the most participations in the European Cup/Champions League by any Northern Irish club to date, having appeared in 27 different seasons of the competition up to and including 2012–13.
Participation in the secondary competitions began with Glentoran in the 1962–63 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup against Spanish side Real Zaragoza. A 2–0 defeat in the first leg at the Oval was followed by a 6–2 defeat away from home in the second leg. They lost the tie 8–2 on aggregate. Glentoran hold the record of the most participations in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup/UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League by any Northern Irish club to date, having appeared in 21 different seasons of the competition. They also hold the record of the most appearances by a Northern Irish club in European competitions overall, having appeared in 42 different seasons up to and including 2013–14 – one season more than Linfield who have made 41 appearances.
In 1960, Glenavon were drawn to face East German side Wismut in the first round of the 1960–61 European Cup. However, they were forced to withdraw when they were refused visas for East Germany and Wismut were refused visas for the UK. UEFA had allowed the matches to take place in neutral countries but that was not financially viable for Glenavon, so they were left with no option but to withdraw. A similar issue arose the following season when in the first round of the 1961–62 European Cup, Linfield were drawn to face another East German team, Vorwärts. The away leg was played, which Linfield lost 3–0. However, Vorwärts were denied visas for the UK to play the second leg, and similarly to Glenavon the previous season, travelling to play the game in a neutral country was not financially viable for Linfield so they were also forced to withdraw from the competition.
In 1965, Derry City became the first Northern Irish club to win a two-legged European tie. In the 1965–66 European Cup, the club's last ever appearance in European competition as a Northern Irish club, they defeated Lyn 8–6 on aggregate in a high-scoring tie. In the second round, they faced Anderlecht from Belgium but suffered a huge 9–0 loss in the away leg and later withdrew from the competition before the second leg was played, when the Irish Football Association ruled that their home ground was not up to standard. In 1972, the club withdrew from senior Northern Irish football and after 13 years of playing amateur football in lower leagues, they joined the League of Ireland in the Irish Republic in 1985.
In 1969, both Coleraine and Glentoran entered the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the first time more than one Northern Irish club had ever been entered into the same European competition. Glentoran lost in the first round, but Coleraine impressively got through to the second round. The two most notable successes in Europe are Linfield reaching the quarter-finals of the 1966–67 European Cup and Glentoran reaching the quarter-finals of the 1973–74 European Cup Winners' Cup. Since the restructuring of the competitions based around the UEFA coefficient system however, the league's relatively low ranking has meant that the clubs have entered in the early qualifying rounds of either the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Cup/Europa League. The third qualifying round is the furthest any club has progressed in either competition in their current formats. This was achieved by Cliftonville in the 2010–11 UEFA Europa League.
In 1976, Irish League B Division club Carrick Rangers won the Irish Cup by defeating strong favourites Linfield 2–1 in the final. This qualified them to take part in European competition for the first, and to date only time – in the 1976–77 European Cup Winners' Cup. They defeated Aris from Luxembourg 4–3 on aggregate in the first round, before going out 9–3 on aggregate to English side Southampton in the second round. To date, this is the only occasion that a club from outside the top division of football in Northern Ireland has represented the country in European competition.
The 1993–94 UEFA Champions League saw Linfield drawn to face Dynamo Tbilisi of Georgia in the preliminary round. After losing 3–2 on aggregate, they were reinstated when their opponents were expelled from the competition for allegedly attempting to bribe match officials. Linfield then went on to face Copenhagen in the first round proper. They won the first leg 3–0, but lost the second leg 4–0 after extra time. This proved costly, as victory would have meant a financially lucrative tie against eventual champions Milan in the next round. In July 2013, Linfield became the first Northern Irish club to win both the home leg and the away leg of a European tie. In the 2013–14 UEFA Europa League first qualifying round they were drawn to face ÍF Fuglafjørður from the Faroe Islands. They won the away leg 2–0 and then won the home leg 3–0 at Windsor Park to complete a comfortable 5–0 aggregate victory. In the second qualifying round they were drawn to face Skoda Xanthi of Greece and won the first leg 1–0 away from home despite being massive underdogs for the tie. This made it three consecutive victories in Europe for the club, without conceding a goal in the process – another first for a Northern Irish club. However, in the second leg at home they went down 2–1 after extra time, which eliminated them on the away goals rule.
European Cup/UEFA Champions League
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup/UEFA Europa League
Cup Winners' Cup
- First match played: AGF 0–0 Glenavon, 11 September 1957 (1957–58 European Cup first round, first leg)
- Most competitions appeared in: 42, joint record: Glentoran and Linfield
- Most games played: 101 – Linfield
- Most wins: 17 – Linfield
- Most draws: 29 – Linfield
- Most defeats: 63 – Glentoran
- Biggest winning margin (match): 5 goals, joint record:
- Biggest winning margin (aggregate): 5 goals, joint record:
- Heaviest defeat (match): 11 goals – Dinamo Bucharest 11–0 Crusaders (1973–74 European Cup first round)
- Heaviest defeat (aggregate): 13 goals, joint record:
UEFA coefficient and ranking
For the 2015–16 UEFA competitions, the associations will be allocated places according to their 2014 UEFA country coefficients, which will take into account their performance in European competitions from 2009–10 to 2013–14. In the 2014 rankings used to allocate berths for the 2015–16 European competitions, Northern Ireland's coefficient points total will be 3.625. After earning a score of 0.875 during the 2013–14 European campaign, Northern Ireland will remain as the 47th best association in Europe out of 54 for the second consecutive season.
- 45 Malta 4.833
- 46 Liechtenstein 4.500
- 47 Northern Ireland 3.625
- 48 Wales 3.000
- 49 Armenia 2.875
Appearances in UEFA competitions
Cup Winners' Cup
PR = Preliminary round; QR = Qualifying round; 1R/2R = First/Second round; QF = Quarter-finals
UEFA Intertoto Cup
GS = Group stage; 1R/2R = First/Second round
- Glenavon qualified for both the 1957–58 European Cup and the 1960–61 European Cup but withdrew from the 1960–61 competition when both clubs were refused visas to enter each other's countries, and it was not financially viable for Glenavon to play the matches in neutral countries.
- Derry City played in Northern Irish football until 1985, when they joined the League of Ireland and now represent the Republic of Ireland in European competition.
- Omagh Town was dissolved in 2005 due to financial problems.
- Newry Town changed its name to Newry City in 2004, and was later dissolved in 2012 due to financial problems.
- Linfield withdrew from the competition before the home leg was played, as Vorwärts were denied visas for entry into the UK, and it was not financially viable for Linfield to play the match in a neutral country.
- Derry City withdrew from the competition before the home leg was played, as the IFA ruled that their home ground was not up to standard.
- No clubs entered European competition this season as a result of the security situation in Northern Ireland. The three clubs that missed out were Glentoran (European Cup), Portadown (UEFA Cup) and Coleraine (Cup Winners' Cup).
- Dinamo Tbilisi were later expelled from the tournament and suspended from UEFA tournaments for two years for allegedly attempting to bribe match officials. Linfield were reinstated.
- No clubs entered the Champions League during these seasons as a result of restructuring by UEFA, with entry to the competition limited to the continent's top 24 countries. The league champions entered the UEFA Cup instead.
- Laporte, Norman (2005) . The Other Germany: Perceptions and Influences in British-East German Relations, 1945–1990 (1st ed.). Wissner. p. 91–106. ISBN 978-3-89639-485-9.
- linfieldfc.com. "Jim Savoured Seven Trophy Success with Linfield". Retrieved 25 July 2013.
- "Derry City FC – A Concise History". CityWeb, 2006. Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- ESPNsoccernet. "Football's last great taboo?". Retrieved 25 July 2013.
- rsssf.com. "RSSSF – Georgia". Retrieved 22 July 2013.
- linfieldfc.com. "Roy McGivern looks ahead to IF Windsor game". Retrieved 25 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Linfield in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Glentoran in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Portadown in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Crusaders in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Cliftonville in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Coleraine in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Glenavon in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Ards in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Lisburn Distillery in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Derry City in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Ballymena United in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Bangor in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Dungannon Swifts in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Carrick Rangers in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.
- uefa.com. "Newry City in UEFA competitions". Retrieved 19 July 2013.