Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas believes Chelsea, and their fellow Champions League drop-outs, do not deserve a place in the Europa League.
Villas-Boas saw his side progress to the knockout stages of the Europa League last night with a 3-1 win over Panathinaikos and then declared his excitement at the prospect of facing Chelsea later in the tournament.
The Portuguese, who was sacked by the Blues after little over eight months in charge, believes the west London should not be allowed into the tournament, however, as he reckons finishing third in a Champions League group should mean a complete exit from European competition altogether.
"I think it's extremely unfair," the Tottenham boss said.
"It would be much fairer if the clubs came into the Europa League when they are knocked out of the last 16 of the Champions League.
"You can't give a bonus to teams who have failed, and in the situation as it stands, teams fail in the Champions League and are promoted to the Europa League, which, in my opinion, is a massive bonus.
"I've not made this up today. I have said this in UEFA meetings before. It's up to them to decide but I think it's not fair."
Chelsea exited the Champions League on Wednesday night despite a 6-1 win against Nordsjaelland, and they will now be seeded for the knockout stages of Europe's second-biggest club competition, which Villas-Boas won with Porto in 2010.
Villas-Boas took Chelsea through to the second round of the Champions League before he was sacked following the club's first-leg defeat by Napoli.
The Blues, now managed by Rafael Benitez, then went on to win the tie before lifting the Champions League for the first time in their history under Roberto Di Matteo.
Villas-Boas thinks destiny could pit him and his former employers against each other in the last 16 of the competition should Spurs beat their next opponents.
"Sometimes it's destiny. Hopefully if we go through we can meet each other," said Villas-Boas, who will learn who his team plays next on December 20.
"They have a team that can win the trophy, so they will be up to the late stages of the competition. We hope to do so. If we cross it is going to be two magnificent games for sure."
It looked for a while like Spurs would not make the knockout stages last night as they struggled to edge past a determined Panathinaikos side urged on by their raucous travelling support.
Spurs, who needed just a draw to progress, looked nervous despite taking the lead through Emmanuel Adebayor and Pana hit back with a deserved equaliser from Zeca.
Toche missed a good chance to put the Greeks ahead, and Spurs eventually went on to seal the win thanks to an unlucky own goal from Orestis Karnezis and Jermain Defoe's 13th strike of the season.
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- Andre Villas-Boas
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- Futebol Clube Do Porto
- Jermain Defoe
- Premier League
- Rafael Benitez
- Tottenham Hotspur
- UEFA Champions League