Northern Ireland in Europe: 2024/25 Coefficient Preview

The 2024/25 European season is quickly approaching, with 236 clubs set to compete in UEFA’s continental club competitions this season.

With the first qualifying round draws occurring next week, Extratime Talk will be providing a comprehensive coefficient preview. Between now and then, each country will be previewed, and all clubs participating in Europe for the 2024/25 season are discussed.

In these articles, we will provide analyses of what to expect from each country in Europe. We will explore what is on the line from a coefficient standpoint, and the keys to succeeding, in that country’s case.

The 36th piece in this coefficient preview series looks at Northern Ireland, and what we can expect from them next term.

Northern Ireland in Europe: Country Profile

Previous Season Coefficient (Rank)1.125 (50th)
Previous Season’s 5-Year Coefficient (Rank)9.208 (42nd)
Starting 5-Year Coefficient (Rank)6.833 (44th)

Northern Ireland had another disappointing season in 2023/24, with only five countries doing worse than their 1.125 points. It meant that for the third year running, they failed to reach the 2.000-point mark that season. It is continued disappointment for Northern Irish football, with the country starting this term in 44th spot.

Three of the four Northern Ireland clubs in Europe participated last summer as well. The only exception is Cliftonville, who replaces Glentoran. With the experience of the clubs this campaign, could it finally be the year NI runs up the rankings?

Northern Ireland in Europe: Club Profile

ClubQualified AsRound of EntryTotal European SeasonsLast Season’s Performance5-Year Club Coefficient (2023/24)5-Year Country Coefficient Contribution, 2023/24 (%)
LarneDomestic ChampionUCL Q14UECL Q24.5001.375 (14.93%)
CliftonvilleCup WinnerUECL Q2, Main Path13N/A2.0000.380 (4.07%)
LinfieldDomestic Runner-upUECL Q151UECL Q210.0003.500 (38.01%)
CrusadersDomestic Play-off Tournament WinnerUECL Q122UECL Q24.5001.375 (14.93%)

Larne won a tight title race with Linfield to pick up their second consecutive NIFL Premiership crown. It will be their fourth campaign in European club competition, all in a row. However, since their first continental journey back in 2021/22, they have not won a two-legged tie. That is four consecutive reverses over two legs. They get a second crack at the Champions League first qualifying round. They will have to make it count this time.

Cliftonville won the Irish Cup to take the spot in the Conference League Q2. Ever-presents in Europe throughout the 2010s, the club will play UECL football for the second time in three years. In their 12 previous campaigns playing continental football, they have only won three ties. Despite their recent European experience, it is about time they make it count.

Linfield will look back at the 2023/24 season as a pair of missed opportunities. They narrowly lost out on both the league and cup, while also getting knocked out of the UECL in Q2. July will be the chance for them to turn things around and make a run. They will be seeded for the first three qualifying rounds of the UECL, something they will have to take advantage of.

Crusaders is Northern Ireland’s other representatives in Europe in 2024/25. In each of their last four European participations, Crusaders won exactly one round. They will be seeded in UECL Q1 once again, but no further. It will now be a matter of taking the next step, because falling in the same round over and over is no improvement.

Northern Ireland Season Ambitions

Northern Ireland should see 38th as a realistic ambition for the year, even though there are several countries in front of them. On top of that, if they can distance themselves even further from the countries 48th and lower, they should be happy. They would not like to be sucked back into a battle for 50th spot again. So, the season’s aim should be two-fold: aim for 38th, and push farther away from the countries below them.

A coefficient total for the season that should be the ambition for Northern Ireland is 2.500 points. That would more than double last year’s tally, but if they reach that target, it would be an excellent year for them. Moreover, it could see them seriously challenge for 38th. With that said, anything worse than 2.000 point should not leave country satisfied, as it would result in another opportunity lost.

What a Good Year Would Look Like for Northern Ireland

A good year for Northern Ireland would be them making a genuine challenge for 38th spot. Sure, they are 2.000 points behind Latvia, but that is still attainable. Even if they fail to finish 38th or better, there should be the aim to at least get close to that.

Coefficient-wise, a good year for Northern Ireland is anywhere north of 2.000 points. That is also a welcomed change from the 1.125 points of last year. Given the country’s struggles in the not-too-distant past, reaching 2.000 points again should be seen as a positive step in the right direction. It would also be something to build off of in coming years.

What to Expect from Northern Ireland 2024/25

Returning to the question earlier in the piece, can Northern Ireland finally make some progress in the coefficient rankings? Speaking with Rob from Northern Irelands Coefficient/Ranking, there is a clear reason why the country is where it is.

Not qualifying for, and getting positive results in, a group stage has been the main obstacle to getting into the top 40,” says Rob when talking about recent struggles. “Linfield has come close twice, while the 10 nations above us have all had teams get results in the groups, where the points (won) are doubled.”

When asked about who will have the most pressure to carry the coefficient, Rob was clear about two teams. “As the two full time professional teams representing NI this year, the coefficient is undoubtedly hinging on Linfield and champions Larne,” claimed the NI football expert. He also pointed out that “expectations are high at Linfield” after a disappointing couple of years where they only managed to win the League Cup.

If Northern Ireland is going to take the next step, now is the time. Larne is unseeded in the weakest UCL Q1 in a long time. Linfield is seeded in three rounds of UECL qualifying, while Crusaders is seeded in one round. That should be enough for NI to at least pick up 2.000 points. Yet, do not be surprised if they fail yet again, as they have so much in the past.

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