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Monday 14 April 2014

Champions League and Europa League qualifying explained

A look at the permutations for European qualification from the Barclays Premier League for 2014/15

  • If a fifth-placed Arsenal win the FA Cup, Hull will miss out on Europa League football

As the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season approaches its final rounds the focus is very much on the title race and the battle to avoid relegation. Also high on the agenda is European qualification with several clubs in the mix for competing in next year's UEFA club tournaments - the Champions League and the Europa League.

Throw in top four places competing for the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup winners qualifying for the Europa League (if they have not already qualified for the Champions League via their final position in the Barclays Premier League table) and there are a variety of permutations. Here is a breakdown of what could happen.

UEFA Champions League qualification

The most straight-forward qualification outcome is that the clubs who finish in the top four positions in the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League will qualify to compete in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League.

1. UEFA Champions League - group stage
2. UEFA Champions League - group stage
3. UEFA Champions League - group stage
4. UEFA Champions League - play-off stage

If a club who do not finish in the top four of the Barclays Premier League win the UEFA Champions league, they automatically take a place in the group stage of the Europe’s elite club competition at the expense of the fourth-placed club, who will instead appear in the UEFA Europa League.

UEFA Europa League

Generally speaking there are three UEFA Europa League places given to English clubs who fulfil the following criteria: winning the FA Cup, winning the Capital One Cup and finishing fifth in the Barclays Premier League.

However, if the Capital One Cup winners finish in the top four, their UEFA Europa League place goes to the next-highest ranked team in the Barclays Premier League (nominally the sixth-placed team).

If the FA Cup winners finish in the top four, their UEFA Europa League place goes to the runners-up. However, if the FA Cup winners finish outside the top four, their UEFA Europa League place goes to the next-highest ranked team in the Barclays Premier League (nominally the seventh-placed team).

How they stand

This season, as Manchester City won the Capital One Cup and are likely to finish in the top four, their place will go to the club who finish sixth in the Barclays Premier League table.

The FA Cup adds another layer of possibilities. If Arsenal beat Hull City in the 17 May final and finish fourth they will qualify for the UEFA Champions League and Steve Bruce’s side will enter the UEFA Europa League as runners-up. However, if the Gunners win the FA Cup and finish outside of the top four they will enter the group stage of the UEFA Europa League as FA Cup winners and an extra place will go to the club who finish seventh in the Barclays Premier League.

Europa League stages

Of the three places in the UEFA Europa League available to English clubs the FA Cup winners enter at the Group Stage, the fifth-placed team in the Barclays Premier League enter at the Play-Off stage, and the Capital One Cup winners enter at the third qualifying stage.

In the event that the FA Cup winners have qualified for the UEFA Champions League, the FA Cup runners-up qualify for the third qualifying stage of the UEFA Europa League. In this case the place with direct access to the Group Stage will be given to the club who finish in the highest position in the Barclays Premier League of the clubs qualifying for the UEFA Europa League.

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Key Points

  • UEFA Europa League place permutations for English clubs clarified
  • Hull can only reach Europa League with FA Cup win or if Arsenal finish fourth in Barclays Premier League
  • If Arsenal finish fifth or lower and win FA Cup additional Europa League place given to next league place