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Race for Europe - How PL clubs secure UEFA qualification

1 Aug 2020
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal

The Premier League season is over but Arsenal's FA Cup win has had a big impact on the qualification places for UEFA competitions

The 2019/20 Premier League campaign may be over but, with Arsenal winning the FA Cup on Saturday and European cup competitions yet to finish, next season's UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League qualifiers are yet to be finalised.

The Gunners won 2-1 against Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Saturday, meaning they will advance to the UEFA Europa League group stage despite their eighth-place finish.

Below we explain the scenarios for UEFA qualification this season.

How it normally works

The top four at the end of the season ordinarily enter the UEFA Champions League (UCL). The team placed fifth and the winners of the FA Cup and the EFL Cup typically qualify for the UEFA Europa League (UEL).

Qualification by league position

Qualification usually goes as in the table below, with seven European spots ordinarily available.

Comp Stage PL Cup As things stand
UCL    Group    1st   LIV
2nd   MCI
3rd   MUN
4th   CHE
UEL   Group  5th   LEI
  FA* TOT
2QR   EFL** WOL

*If the FA Cup winners finish in the top five, their UEL spot goes to the next-placed team in the PL yet to qualify
**If the EFL Cup winners finish in the top five, their UEL spot goes to the next-placed team in the PL yet to qualify

Should a Premier League club win the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League, they will automatically qualify for the group stage of next season's UEFA Champions League, regardless of their league finishing position.

A maximum of five Premier League teams are eligible for UEFA Champions League qualification.

If a Premier League club win the UEFA Champions League and another win the UEFA Europa League, and neither finish in the top four, the club lying fourth in the Premier League drops into the UEFA Europa League group stage.  

Race for Europe

Pos Team Pl GD Pts
1 LIV 38 +52 99
2 MCI 38 +67 81
3 MUN 38 +30 66
4 CHE 38 +15 66
5 LEI 38 +26 62
6 TOT 38 +14 59
7 WOL 38 +11 59
8 ARS 38 +8 56
As it stands: UEFA Champions League

LiverpoolManchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea have secured the four spots in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

If Man City or Chelsea win this season's UEFA Champions League in August, it will not change the league's UEFA allocation for next season.

Equally, there will be no change if Man Utd win the UEFA Europa League and the place in the UCL that comes with that prize.

But seventh-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers can still qualify for the UEFA Champions League by winning the UEFA Europa League to give the Premier League five representatives in the competition.

As it stands: UEFA Europa League

The fifth-placed Premier League team, in this case Leicester City, ordinarily qualify for the group stages of the UEFA Europa League.

Because Man City have won the EFL Cup, the place in the second qualifying round of the UEL that this trophy merits will go to sixth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

What Arsenal's FA Cup win means

Arsenal's FA Cup win confirmed Spurs' second qualifying round place for the UEL. If the Gunners had lost to Chelsea, Spurs would have claimed a group-stage place.

This means that UEFA Wolves miss out on a Europa League place, but they could yet be the eighth Premier League team in European competition if they win the 2019/20 UEL. 

Scenarios for European qualifiers
    WOL don't win UEL WOL win UEL
1 LIV UCL GS UCL GS
2 MCI UCL GS UCL GS
3 MUN UCL GS UCL GS
4 CHE UCL GS UCL GS
5 LEI UEL GS UEL GS
6 TOT UEL 2QR UEL 2QR
7 WOL - UCL GS
8 ARS UEL GS UEL GS

*GS = group stages; 2QR = second qualifying round

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