April 24, 2024

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Which Premier League clubs will qualify for the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League?

6 min read
Which Premier League clubs will qualify for the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League?

The Premier League season is entering the final stretch and the race for a place in Europe next season is starting to hot up.

We take a look at who is in contention to qualify for the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League, and what impact an English team winning a European trophy could have.

– How VAR has affected every Premier League club

How many teams qualify for Europe?

The maximum that can qualify from domestic performance in the Premier League — so either league position or by winning one of the two cup competitions — is seven.

However, the places reserved for European titleholders are separate if a team does not qualify domestically. Therefore, it is technically possible, though unlikely, for the Premier League to have 10 teams in Europe — the seven domestic qualifiers plus the winners of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League if they are outside the European places.

This season, a maximum of nine Premier League teams could qualify for Europe.

Which Premier League places will qualify this season?

At the start of the season, the top four in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League, while fifth place and the FA Cup winners enter the Europa League. The winners of the Carabao Cup qualify for the Europa Conference League.

However, Liverpool won the Carabao Cup and can finish no lower than fifth in the league, so the Europa Conference League place transfers to the Premier League.

Similarly, the FA Cup final will be between Chelsea and Liverpool. There’s virtually no mathematical chance that Chelsea would finish outside the top six if they were to be the winners, so we can be all but certain that the Europa League place will also transfer to the Premier League.

So, purely on domestic performance we know the following:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4
Europa League: 5, 6
Europa Conference League: 7

All teams go direct to the group stage, apart from the Europa Conference League, where the seventh-placed club will enter in the final qualifying round.

Who is in contention for Europe?

Manchester City (74) and Liverpool (73 points) have all but confirmed their places in the Champions League, while Chelsea would have to endure a massive collapse to fall out of the top four.

Tottenham Hotspur (57) hold the fourth Champions League position, three points ahead of Manchester United and Arsenal (both 54, though the Gunners have a game in hand). It is likely the fourth UCL spot will go to one of these three teams.

West Ham United (52) are five points behind Spurs though they have played an extra game, with Wolverhampton Wanderers (49) in eighth.

Though ninth-placed Leicester City (40) could get back into it as they have games in hand, it’s most likely that only the top eight remain in contention.



Shaka Hislop finds it bemusing that a struggling Man United side may yet qualify for the Champions League.

What if Liverpool or Manchester City win the Champions League?

This will have no effect on the Premier League as the clubs are essentially guaranteed to finish in the top four this season. There is no “drop down” of places to give fifth a Champions League spot.

If the Champions League winners also qualify domestically, the position in the group stage for the titleholders is vacant. This isn’t filled by giving another team a place, the qualifying rounds are rebalanced with clubs effectively receiving byes.

Ordinarily, this would mean the champions of the country ranked 11th in the UEFA coefficient table at the end of the 2020-21 season — which is Scotland — would go direct to the Champions League group stage, rather than having to qualify.

However, Russia is ranked eighth, and if its clubs continue to be excluded from European competition then Scotland will move up a position to 10th anyway. That would give the champions of the 12th-ranked country a place in the group stage. This just so happens to be Ukraine, though there are obvious doubts about its clubs participating next season. So we move on to the country ranked 13th, and it would be the champions of Turkey promoted to the group stage.

What if West Ham win the Europa League?

By winning the Europa League, West Ham will earn a place in the Champions League group stage, and will be one of the eight top seeds in the draw.

How that affects European places in the Premier League depends purely on where they finish.

There are three overriding principles:
– The winners of a European competition have the automatic right to European football the following season.
– A team has the right to play in the highest-ranked competition they qualify for.
– Another Premier League team cannot be affected by another’s success in Europe.

There are a few caveats, but they won’t apply this season, so we’ll keep things simple and avoid those.

So we know that if West Ham win the Europa League:
– They are guaranteed to play in the Champions League wherever they finish in the Premier League
– Eighth in the Premier League cannot qualify for Europe as a result of this

If West Ham finish fourth, it has a similar effect to Liverpool or Man City winning the Champions League, in that the place for the Europa League titleholder is vacant and qualifying rounds are rebalanced. The difference is that the third-placed team in France will be promoted direct to the Champions League group stage.

If West Ham finish in any other European position in the league (fifth, sixth or seventh), the Premier League effectively loses a place in that competition. The slot is left vacant and the qualifying rounds are rebalanced.

So, if West Ham finish fifth or sixth, there will be only one team in the Europa League:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4, West Ham
Europa League: 5 or 6 only
Europa Conference League: 7

If West Ham finish seventh, their current league position, there will be no English team in the Europa Conference League:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4, West Ham
Europa League: 5, 6
Europa Conference League:

This happened in Spain last season, when Villarreal won the Europa League and finished seventh, meaning LaLiga had no representative in the inaugural season of the Europa Conference League.

If West Ham finish lower than seventh, they will take their place in Europe as titleholders but the top seven will be affected — there would be eight Premier League teams in Europe:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4, West Ham
Europa League: 5, 6
Europa Conference League: 7

What if Leicester win the Europa Conference League?

This is far less complicated, as there is only a small chance that Leicester will finish in the top seven in the Premier League. The Foxes are 12 points behind West Ham in seventh, although they do have three games in hand.

If Leicester win the Europa Conference League, they will qualify for next season’s Europa League. As long as Leicester do finish outside the top seven, it will create an additional European place as titleholders. As mentioned above, another Premier League team cannot lose out or benefit as a result of Leicester’s success.

Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4
Europa League: 5, 6, Leicester
Europa Conference League: 7

Should Leicester squeeze into the top seven, then the same principles apply as in the West Ham section. For instance, if Leicester finish seventh then the Premier League would lose its slot in the Europa Conference League next season.

How can the Premier League have nine teams in Europe?

This is only possible if Leicester and West Ham win the European titles and finish outside the top 7, which is certainly possible as both are likely to concentrate on Europe now.

Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4, West Ham
Europa League: 5, 6, Leicester
Europa Conference League: 7

Can’t eighth in the Premier League qualify for Europe?

It is impossible for eight to qualify by league position. This team must win a domestic cup competition or a European title to play in Europe the following season.

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