The season is over for Aston Villa, time for the manager to concentrate on next season and the Europa LDV tournament

If you didn't know, we have now qualified for the Europa LDV League for next season, which means, if we are to take this tournament seriously, that new players will be coming to Aston Villa and if we are to hope for this to be done seriously, it should happen quite soon.

But this post isn't about banging the drum, it's about looking at the additional fixtures we are going to have on our plate next season.


The format is a little different to the old UEFA Cup and there are 160 teams that will take part from 53 countries. To get to the final we will have to play an extra 49 games over the season and then the final itself is over four legs in four different countries with final show piece match taking place in Greenland, weather permitting.

Okay, I'm joking about those two last bits, but this really is waste of a tournament, much like it's older brother. The Champions League should be about Champions, this tournament should be about the best of the rest and when you consider they'll be seven teams from a league of twenty making it into Europe, it does, albeit make the season more interesting, make the whole thing just a bit undervalued. Maybe waste of a tournament is too strong a word, but I suppose a necessary stepping stone.

The format is actually quite complicated to work out because there are so many teams that are going to enter. Regardless of where we finish now though, we will enter the tournament at the play-off round.

Twenty-four teams are eligible to play in the play-off round. Also entering at this stage are the 35 winners from the previous rounds along with the 15 losers from the Champions League 3rd qualifying round which will equate to 10 champions and 5 non-champions from their respective countries.

If we win the home and away leg of the play-off round, to be played in August, then we will enter the group stages, which will mean a further six matches, between September and December this year.

The group stages will have twelve groups of four teams and this is where the defending champions enter, thirty-seven teams from the play-off round and a further ten teams from the Chumpians League play-off round.

We are nearly, or actually, if we get through this, at about half way and where it starts to get serious.

If we come first or second in our group of four teams then we go into the 'final phase' with a round of 32 teams home and away, the winners go into a round of 16 teams home and away before we get to the quarter finals, the semi finals and then the final, which will be held at the HSH Nordbank Arena in Hamburg, on May 12, 2010.

So, we know where we are going to enter this tournament now and we know we are going to finish in the top six, it really is season over, but I think that should be taken as a positive. Play this kids; rest Webcam, Carew, Gabby, Petrov, Barry, Milner and Friedel and bring in the kids and more experienced squad players that maybe haven't had as many chances to play as they would have liked.

If he makes those wholesale changes, chances are it's not going to effect where we finish in the league and if the decision is made it frees up time for Martin O'Neill to concentrate on getting his new players in. If he does that and we see those kids gain some much needed experience and give them a real chance to stake a claim, I fancy all of us would accept it.

Just an option, one that will probably not happen and he'll spend all his time dealing with the first team and not giving them a rest when he can, but still, I think one that would be interesting to see and would certainly allow him time to concentrate on the six or seven players he needs to get in.

For more information on the Europa LDV League, click here and apologies for skipping between Champions League and Chumpians League - I've not yet fully decided what I'm going to refer to it as, although I'm favouring Chumpians, only because it really isn't about champions.