Can fifth place in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League? Everything West Ham, Liverpool, and Tottenham fans need to know
Chelsea’s commanding 2-0 win over Real Madrid on Wednesday night was enough to set up and all-English Champions League final for the first time since Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur in 2019.
The Blues will face off against Manchester City, who comfortably made their way past PSG earlier in the week, with the prestigious clash set to take place in Istanbul on May 29th.
Domestically, both sides currently occupy spots in the top four, and would be on course for Champions League qualification anyway, but because the winner of the tournament automatically books their place in next season’s group stage, there could be some interesting ramifications for which sides get a shot at Europe’s top competition next term.
Here’s everything you need to know about Champions League qualification now that we have an all-English final…
Will fifth place qualify for the Champions League next season?
Ordinarily, the Premier League sends its top four teams into the Champions League group stage.
There are circumstances in which the normal process can change, however.
The English top flight can send a maximum of five clubs into the Champions League, and should a Premier League club win the competition they will automatically qualify for the group stage of next season's competition regardless of their league finishing position.
This means that if Chelsea were to win the tournament but finish outside of the top four, they would still qualify for the group stage in 2021/22.
However, it also means that if they do finish in the top four, or if champions elect City lift the trophy, the team who finish fifth will be eligible for a place in the competition.
Is there any way that fifth place could miss out on Champions League next season?
The short answer is yes, but the chances of it now happening are fairly slim.
Up until last night, there was still a possibility that Europe’s second competition could also play host to an all-English final this term, Arsenal’s inability to overturn their deficit against Villarreal means that Manchester United will be marching into the final two alone.
The winner of the Europa League automatically earns a spot in the Champions League group stage too, regardless of league position, meaning that if Arsenal had been able to lift the trophy, they would have taken up the fifth spot in the competition.
Likewise, if Manchester United suffer a late season collapse and fall out of the top four, they would take up the final spot in the Champions League next season if they go on to win the Europa League.
There is also still a way in which a side in fourth could miss out on a place at the top table next season.
If the Champions League and Europa League are both won by sides who finish outside of the top four, then they will take up the fourth and fifth Premier League allocations in the Champions League respectively.
Because the top flight is only allowed a maximum of five teams in the tournament, that would mean that whoever finished fourth would be shunted down to the Europa League.