As Premier League clubs set their sights on the home stretch, we explain how the European places are allocated…
Everyone knows that the top four in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League. That’s usually pretty clear, unless you’re Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham. But other routes to Europe aren’t always so obvious. Here are the qualification criteria and permutations for the three main UEFA competitions.
The top four in the Premier League progress to the group stage. No annoying qualifying rounds needed.
There are usually two places up for grabs for the Europa League. One belongs to the fifth placed in the Premier League. The other goes to the FA Cup winners. Both enter the group stage.
Europe Conference League
In addition to all the sodas they can drink, the Carabao Cup winners will also receive a place in the play-off stages for the Europa Conference League.
If a team outside the top four had won the Champions League or Europa League, there would be five English sides in the Champions League, but the exits of Chelsea and Manchester United really keep things simple: the top four will enter the Champions League in the stage group.
If a team that finishes in the top four also wins the Champions League (Manchester City), the place is not given to another team.
The only European place already awarded this season is that of Manchester United the triumph of the Carabao Cup. But United are currently in a good position to finish in the top four – they are literally fourth at the time of writing. If United secure a place in the Champions League or Europa League by finishing in the top five, their place in the Europa Conference League will be reserved for the next highest Premier League finish not already qualified for Europe.
The same applies if the FA Cup winners finish in the top five – their Europa League place will go to the best Premier League finish without a European place by other means. After Brighton and Sheffield United were defeated in the semi-finals, that path will almost certainly return to the Premier League.
If so, the fifth and sixth places would enter the Europa League next season, and the seventh in the Europa Conference League. And that’s how West Ham found themselves back in Europe this season.
Likely Current Qualifications:
Arsenal, Manchester City, Newcastle United and Manchester United: Champions League.
Liverpool and Brighton: Europa League.
Tottenham: Europa League