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Qualification for UEFA competitions explained

23/04/2017
Luke Shaw, Manchester United

A breakdown of how PL clubs can qualify for UEFA Champions League and Europa League next season

Below is a breakdown of how Premier League clubs can qualify to play in UEFA competitions in 2017/18.

The maximum numbers of English teams in UEFA competitions is seven.

(Please note UEFA reserves the right to change the conditions of the access list so these criteria can be subject to change.)

UEFA Champions League (UCL) qualification

In normal circumstances, four UCL places are given to English clubs who fulfil the following criteria:

  • The top three teams in the Premier League qualify for the group stage proper.
  • The fourth-placed team in the Premier League qualify for the play-off round.
The UEFA Champions League trophy
The UEFA Champions League trophy

UEFA Europa League (UEL) qualification

In normal circumstances, three UEL places are given to English clubs who fulfil the following criteria: 

  • The fifth-placed team in the Premier League qualify for the group stage proper. 
  • The winners of the FA Cup qualify for the group stage proper.
  • The EFL Cup winners qualify for the third qualifying round. 

Where these qualifications changes

a) 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.

b) If the EFL Cup winners finish in the top five of the Premier League (or top six if (a) happens), their UEL third qualifying round place will go to the next-highest ranked team not qualified for UEFA competitions in the Premier League.

Jose Mourinho, Manchester United
If Jose Mourinho's Man Utd win the UEL, they will qualify for either the 2017/18 UCL group stage or play-off stage

If Man Utd win 2016/17 Europa League

Manchester United are in the semi-finals of the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League, having been drawn to play Celta Vigo. 

The winners of the UEL qualify for the UEFA Champions League.

How qualification for English teams may change were United to win the UEL:

  • If Man Utd win the UEL and finish in the top four of the Premier League, the top four PL teams will all qualify for the UCL group stage unless the 2016/17 UCL winners fail to qualify for the group stage via their domestic championship finishing position. Then Man Utd, as UEL winners, would go into the UCL play-off round stage.
  • If Man Utd win the UEL and finish outside the top four of the Premier League, the top three PL teams will qualify for the UCL group stage, the fourth-placed team will qualify for the UCL play-off round and Man Utd will qualify for the UCL group stage unless the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League winners fail to qualify for the group stage via their domestic championship finishing position. Then Man Utd would go into the UCL play-off round.
  • If Man Utd win the UEL their place in the UEL third qualifying round for winning the EFL Cup would go to the next-highest ranked team not qualified for UEFA competitions in the Premier League.

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