Is Premier League's fifth Champions League place in danger?

15 Dec 2023
Bruno Fernandes and Harry Kane

Early exits of Man Utd and Newcastle may affect chances of fifth spot earning a place in next season's UEFA competition

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The exits from Europe this week of Manchester United and Newcastle United, after finishing bottom of their UEFA Champions League groups, may have a big impact on these two clubs’ hopes of returning to the competition next season.

Two leagues in Europe will be rewarded with an extra place in the revamped UEFA Champions League (UCL) next season based on the record of their clubs in all of UEFA’s competitions this campaign.

So, for the Premier League, this could lead to the top five clubs entering the 2024/25 UCL rather than the traditional top four.

How does it work?

UEFA calculates which two leagues will be rewarded by adding up coefficient points based on the performances of clubs from each league across the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League.

Every win, no matter the competition, earns each league two points, while a draw gets one point, and there are no points for defeat.

The further that teams progress in their competitions, additional bonus points are awarded, which are weighted according to the competition.

Champions League bonus points
Group stage - four
Round of 16 - five
Quarter-final, semi-final, final - one

Europa League bonus points
Group winners - four
Group runners-up - two
Round of 16, quarter-final, semi-final, final - one

Europa Conference League bonus points
Group winners - two
Group runners-up - one
Semi-final, final - one

The points of all participating clubs are totalled and then divided by the number of clubs who started the season in UEFA competitions, to calculate the coefficient average.

After the group stages of all three competitions, the poor performances of Man Utd and Newcastle have not only reduced the Premier League's points total but their exits mean that neither club will be adding further points from now on.

This means that at present, the Premier League is below the Bundesliga and Serie A in the coefficient rankings.

But the gap is a small one thanks to the fact that all four Premier League teams in the Europa League and Europa Conference League (Liverpool, West Ham United, Brighton & Hove Albion and Aston Villa) progressed last night as group winners in their respective competitions.

According to Dale Johnson, of ESPN, the present co-efficient scores have the Premier League just below the Bundesliga in third position and not far off Serie A in first. 

UEFA co-efficient rankings

1) Italy - 14.00
2) Germany - 13.64
3) England - 13.63
4) Spain - 12.69
5) Czech Republic - 12.00
Source: ESPN

So, the Premier League needs its remaining six participating clubs to progress far in the competitions to have a chance of fifth place in the table earning that extra Champions League place.

Their chances of doing so may become clearer when the draws for the knockout stages of the three competitions are made on Monday 18 December.

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