Arsenal are out of Europe for the first time in 25 years so of course this is when they finally do away with away goals in UEFA competitions.
How many times have Arsenal crashed out of Europe on away goals? Too many, is the answer. At least we know that won’t be happening next season because Arsenal won’t be in Europe but, by the time they return, if they do, they will not have to worry about being dumped out because of an archaic rule that harks back to a different era.
This week, UEFA’s club competitions committee voted to scrap the rule after 56 years, although the vote still needs to be ratified by UEFA’s executive committee.
The Daily Mail point to the unfairness of the away goal rule over the past season with no home fans to generate a ‘home’ advantage, but growing up I was always told by those older than me, who remembered the rule being brought in, that it stemmed more from having to travel across Europe to places that might take a long time to get to, back when travel wasn’t what it is now, along with compensating for issues with pitch quality and changing facilities.
That has long since stopped being an issue with UEFA doing all it can to ensure that any team with subpar facilities has no chance of getting into their competitions while travel has been revolutionised.
Some places still take quite a bit of travelling to get to, like the Europa League final when it was played in Baku, but away goals aren’t used in finals, anyway.