NEWCASTLE United and Sunderland have a wait to decide which team, if any, will qualify for Europa League football come the end of the season.
Not only are there permutations involving league placing but the FA Cup outcome, alongside Champions League success for Chelsea, needs taking into consideration.
But, of the two clubs, Sunderland have the ‘easier’ route to Europe.
The overall scenario for Europa League qualification sees the FA Cup winner entering in the group stage, while finishing fifth in the Premier League in the play-offs, and the League Cup winners, means a qualifying round spot (a position already ascertained by Liverpool after their penalty shootout victory over Cardiff at Wembley Stadium).
HOW WILL NEWCASTLE QUALIFY FOR EUROPE?
The more experienced of the two sides in terms of past European exploits, Newcastle United have the harder qualification run to the Europa League.
Chelsea either winning or not winning the Champions League, aside then Newcastle should qualify from fifth place, the only Europa League spot available through the Premier League.
This will also come down to results going their way, as well as emerging unscathed from a potentially vital trip to Stamford Bridge on April 14.
Although Newcastle only have nine games to play, there is the small matter of negotiating trips to Chelsea, Swansea and Everton and home matches with Liverpool, Bolton and Manchester City.
A more realistic aim would be to go for fourth – and the Champions League spot – and hope for the best, or take an outside chance from the Fair Play League possibles.
Chelsea will have a big say in events. If they win the Champions League they’ll take the fourth qualifying berth but Newcastle must then overhaul Tottenham and Arsenal in order to do stand a chance there as well.
HOW WILL SUNDERLAND QUALIFY FOR EUROPE?
Sunderland can claim European qualification for the second time in their history by winning or even being runners-up, in the FA Cup.
Qualification through the Premier League might just be out of their hands, even if the Martin O’Neill effect does continue apace.
Sunderland have 10 league matches left to play, but they include games against other European candidates in Manchester City, Tottenham, Everton and Manchester United.
Negotiating an FA Cup replay with Everton and then defeating Liverpool in the semis should see the Wearsiders face either Tottenham or Chelsea in the final. The outcome being that Sunderland would qualify for the Europa League as either or of the two London clubs should have already taken their own European spots.
There is also the small matter of even taking the back-door route into the Europa League through the outcome of the Fair Play League. On current standings, Sunderland and Newcastle find themselves in an unsafe disciplinary position.
The Black Cats are 12th and the Magpies are 15th, with Swansea City top.