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


The Premier League season is entering its final stretch and the race for a place in Europe next season is starting to heat 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 side winning a European trophy could have.

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How many teams qualify for Europe?

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

However, the places reserved for the holders of the European title are separated if a team does not qualify at the national level. 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. Carabao Cup winners qualify for the Europa Conference League.

However, Liverpool have won the Carabao Cup and can only finish fifth in the league, so the Europa League berth moves to the Premier League.

Likewise, the FA Cup final will be played between Chelsea and Liverpool. There’s virtually no mathematical chance of Chelsea finishing outside the top six if they were to be the winners, so we can be almost certain that the Europa League place will also be moved to the Premier League.

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

All teams advance directly to the group stage, with the exception of the Europa Conference League where the seventh-placed club will enter the final qualifying round.

Who is in the running for Europe?

Manchester City (74) and Liverpool (73 points) have all but confirmed their Champions League places, while Chelsea are set to suffer a massive collapse to climb out of the top four.

Tottenham Hotspur (57) sit fourth in the Champions League, three points ahead of Manchester United and Arsenal (both 54, although the Gunners are one game short). It is likely that fourth place in the UCL will go to one of these three teams.

West Ham United (52) are five points behind Spurs despite playing an extra game, with Wolverhampton Wanderers (49) in eighth.

Although ninth-placed Leicester City (40) could come back to it as they have games in progress, it is highly likely that only the top eight will remain in contention.

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Shaka Hislop finds it baffling that a struggling Man United side can still qualify for the Champions League.

What if Liverpool or Manchester City won the Champions League?

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

If the Champions League winners also qualify domestically, the place in the group stage for the defending champions is vacant. This is not filled by giving a place to another team, the qualifying rounds are rebalanced with clubs actually receiving byes.

Normally this would mean the champions of the country ranked 11th in the UEFA coefficient table at the end of the 2020-21 season – i.e. Scotland – would go straight to the League group stage champions, rather than having to qualify.

However, Russia are ranked eighth and if their clubs continue to be excluded from European competition, Scotland will drop to 10th place anyway. This would give the champions of the 12th-ranked country a place in the group stage. It happens to be Ukraine, although there are obvious doubts about whether their clubs will participate next season. So we go to the country ranked 13th, and it would be the champions of Turkey promoted in the group stage.

What if West Ham won the Europa League?

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

How it affects Europe’s Premier League places depends solely on where they end up.

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

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

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 can’t qualify for Europe because of this

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

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

So if West Ham finish fifth or sixth, there will only be 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 position in the league, 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 representatives in the inaugural Europa Conference League season.

If West Ham finish below seventh place, they will take their place in Europe as holders, 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 won the Europa Conference League?

It’s much less complicated, as there’s only a slim chance of Leicester finishing in the Premier League top seven. The Foxes are 12 points behind seventh-tier West Ham, despite having three games in hand.

If Leicester win the Europa Conference League, they will qualify for the Europa League next season. As long as Leicester finish outside the top seven, it will create an additional European spot as holders. As mentioned above, another Premier League side cannot lose or benefit from Leicester’s success.

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

If Leicester finish in the top seven, the same principles apply as in the West Ham section. For example, if Leicester finished seventh, the Premier League would lose their place 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 focus on Europe now.

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

Can’t the 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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