For Manchester United, getting back into Europe's gala jamboree is important. It matters to the players, for reasons of prestige, and it matters to the fans, because top-level European football is pretty ace. It also matters to the club, and the shadowy suits that run the club, because it brings in money. And as of next season, it's going to bring in a fair chunk more.
Full details are over in the Daily Mail, but in short, the prize money is going up. Considerably. The money for group stage appearances will rise by up to 50 per cent, and English clubs will also reap the benefits of BT Sport's bumper new deal. In total, an English club winning next season's competition could take home approximately £74m before ticketing income and commercial bonuses; by way of comparison, last season United took home £33m for reaching the quarter-finals.
All of which means we can expect the Race for Fourth Place -- one of the more pernicious evils of modern football -- to get even more fraught. United are currently in that last qualifying position, five points ahead of Liverpool. But though it is doubtless the club's aim to return to Europe's elite competition, a quick reminder for any football managers reading: fourth place is not a trophy. You can tell trophies: they're big and silver and you need to hire buses to show them off.