Europa League and Champions League qualification: what finishing fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh or even eighth could mean for Premier League clubs

21 Apr

European qualification explained…


How many Champions League and Europa League places does the Premier League have? 
Four in the Champions League, which could become five, and three in the Europa League.

Winning the Premier League guarantees seeded status in the Champions League group stage, while finishing second or third guarantees a group stage place.

Finishing fourth in the Premier League is scheduled to provide a place in the final Champions League qualifying round.

A Europa League group stage place is allotted to the FA Cup winners and at least one club via Premier League standing. Winning the League Cup provides a place in the final Europa League qualifying round (if League Cup winners Man City qualify for Europe via another route, the League Cup winners’ place will be awarded on the basis of Premier League placing – see below).

Of course, it’s possible and likely clubs will qualify for European competition by more than one route, in which case it changes the qualification details, as explained below.

How could five Premier League clubs qualify for the Champions League?
If Liverpool win the Europa League and finish outside of the top four in the Premier League.

Is it possible that fourth place in the Premier League won’t provide a place in the final Champions League qualifying round?
Yes. If Manchester City win the Champions League and finish fourth in the Premier League, they would qualify directly for the Champions League group stage, as holders, and no Premier League clubs will take part in the qualifying round. If City win the Champions League but finish outside the Premier League top four, City will qualify for the Champions League as holders and the fourth place team from the Premier League will qualify for the Europa League.

How are the three Europa League places awarded?
Europa League group stage qualification can be secured via a Premier League place (see below) or winning the FA Cup, while winning the League Cup secures a place in the third qualifying round. As winners of the 2016 Capital One Cup, as it stands Manchester City have a place in the Europa League third qualifying round. But it looks as though City will qualify for the Champions League, most likely by finishing in the top four or possibly by winning the Champions League itself. In which case, their qualification for the Europa League via the League Cup will go to another club, based on Premier League placings. Here’s where it starts to get a little bit more complicated.

Fourth place in the Premier League will definitely provide Europa League qualification if…
Manchester City win the Champions League but finish outside the Premier League top four (unless Liverpool finish fourth and win the Europa League)

Fifth place in the Premier League will definitely provide Europa League qualification if…
Manchester City don’t win the Champions League

Sixth place in the Premier League will definitely provide Europa League qualification if…
Manchester City finish in the Premier League top four

Seventh place in the Premier League will definitely provide Europa League qualification if…
Manchester United win the FA Cup and finish in the top six, and Manchester City finish in the top five

Eighth place in the Premier League will definitely provide Europa League qualification if…
Liverpool win the Europa League and finish seventh in the Premier League AND Manchester United win the FA Cup and finish in the top six in the Premier League AND Manchester City qualify for the Champions League (either finishing top four or winning the Champions League itself)

Clubs definitely CANNOT qualify for the Europa League by…
Finishing as runners up in the FA Cup final or via the ‘Fair Play’ league.

Last season West Ham United earned a spot in the first qualifying round of the Europa League having topped the 2014-15 Premier League Fair Play table, but qualification places are no longer awarded on this basis.

The last time the FA Cup runners up were eligible for Europa League qualification was in 2014, when Hull City lost to Arsenal at Wembley but were awarded a European place due to the Gunners’ Champions League qualification.

When Arsenal won the FA Cup again in 2015, while also qualifying for the Champions League, Liverpool took the Europa League spot thanks to their Premier League place, rather than cup final runners up Aston Villa.

FA FAIR PLAY LEAGUE: WHO’S BEEN NAUGHTY AND WHO’S BEEN NICE? CHECK OUT THE RANKING, SO FAR THIS SEASON, HERE

Qualification details correct on 21 April 2016

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