Can fifth place in the Premier League qualify for Champions League? What Tottenham fans need to know
Manchester City are now the only Premier League side left in the UEFA Champions League tournament
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Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United have all but confirmed their places in next year’s UEFA Champions League competition. The Gunners and City are sitting over 10 points clear of their nearest rivals while United and current fourth placed side Newcastle are battling it out with Tottenham to see who will enjoy a 2023/24 season of UCL action.
However, finishing in the top four of the league is not the only way to qualify for the showpiece continental competition.
Teams who win both the top tournament and the UEFA Europa League from the current season qualify automatically for next season’s Champions League and that can have ramifications for other sides if they also take up a domestic qualification place.
Here is everything you need to know about how the UEFA Champions League qualification process works in the Premier League:
How does Champions League qualification work in the Premier League?
In normal circumstances, the top four teams from the Premier League qualify for the group stage proper while the team who finished fifth qualifying for the group stage of the UEFA Europa League along with the side that wins the FA Cup.
The EFL Cup winners qualify for the playoff stages of the UEFA Europa Conference League.
However, things are usually not so straightforward with the team who wins the FA Cup or EFL Cup usually qualifying for Europe through the league.
As per the Premier League website:
- If the FA Cup winners finish in the top five of the Premier League, their UEL group stage place will go to the next-highest ranked team not qualified for UEFA competitions in the Premier League.
- If the EFL Cup winners finish in the top five of the Premier League (or top six if (a) happens), their UECL playoff place will go to the next-highest ranked team not qualified for UEFA competitions in the Premier League.
As for Champions League qualification, that can be impacted if a team who finishes in the top four of the Premier League also wins either the Champions League or Europa League.
Should a Premier League club win the Champions League they will automatically qualify for the group stage of next season’s competition regardless of their league finishing position and the same goes for the Europa League.
However, if a club wins the Champions League or Europa League and finishes in the top four, their qualification for the UCL through their league position is not transferred to another team.
How many Premier League teams can qualify for the Champions League?
The Premier League can only send a maximum of five teams to the Champions League. In normal circumstances, the places will go to the teams who finish in the top four of the league but a fifth place will go to a side if they win either the Champions League or Europa League and do not finish in the top four.
In the incredibly unlikely circumstance that teams from the Premier League were to win both the Champions League and Europa League and neither finished inside the top four of the table then the team who finishes fourth would NOT gain a place in the Champions League and would instead drop into the Europa League.
At present, (Tuesday 18 May 2023) Arsenal, City, United and Newcastle are all qualifying for the Champions League while Tottenham qualifies for Europa League. Chelsea are now out of the UEFA Champions League after losing both legs in the quarter-final to Real Madrid and are now unable to qualify for next year’s tournament.