/A Welcome Payday for Obscure Teams in the Champions League

A Welcome Payday for Obscure Teams in the Champions League

That plan proved unworkable, but Trepca officials eventually found seats for the team on a flight from Slovenia back to Kosovo. From there, the team was to travel to Turkey, then to Denmark, before finally flying to the remote Faroes, a cluster of Danish islands north of Scotland. There, in the North Atlantic, their Champions League journey will begin.

Just 24 days after Cristiano Ronaldo’s two goals helped Real Madrid beat Juventus in the Champions League final in Cardiff, Wales, the competition returns this week on a handful of obscure stages. Ten champions from the lowest-ranked European leagues — San Marino, Malta, Estonia, Andorra, Northern Ireland, Wales, Gibraltar, the Faroe Islands, Armenia and Kosovo — will open the tournament with home-and-away ties.

For these clubs, which include not only Trepca ’89 and Vikingur but also clubs like Hibernians of Malta and the Northern Irish champions Linfield F.C., their Champions League experience can end before most of the true contenders have returned from summer break.

Photo

Nikolay Mashichev of F.C. Infonet Tallin, right, and Sam Nicholson of Heart of Midlothian F.C. battling during the…

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