Ibai Gomez: ‘I prefer to play the Copa del Rey with fans than qualify for Europe’

Athletic Club Bilbao midfielder Ibai Gomez has said playing the Copa del Rey final – a Basque derby against Real Sociedad – in front of fans is preferable to playing in the Europa League.

As outlined by El Mundo Deportivo, UEFA have declared that the remaining Europa League spot would go to seventh-place in La Liga should the Copa final not be played this season.

That has left a dilemma as this is the first Basque derby in the Copa showpiece, and it is thought the clubs will opt not to play the game until fans can safely attend football – which is likely to be a year away or more.

“I prefer to play the Copa del Rey with fans than qualify for Europe,” Ibai Gomez told Cadena Cope’s El Partidazo show, as cited by Marca. “I prefer that option to playing the Europa League.”

Valencia currently occupy seventh spot in the division and the position would go directly into the Europa League if the final is not staged.

The initial proposal from the Spanish authorities would be that Athletic Bilbao would go into the Europa League if the Copa del Rey final was not played, but now UEFA have said it must instead go to the final La Liga slot.

It is not yet clear what decision will be taken in terms of titles, promotions and relegations should the season not be completed – but the Spanish FA needed to communicate to UEFA what clubs would be entitled to perform in their competitions next season.

The intention of La Liga remains to complete the 2019/20 campaign.

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