Does 5th place in the Premier League qualify for Champions League? How Man United, Newcastle exits damaged coefficient ranking

The UEFA Champions League will undergo major changes for the 2024/25 season with Premier League sides impacted both in qualifying and the competition itself.

UEFA opted to end their long-standing group-stage format and move to a league-style structure, with a knockout-stage campaign included in the second half of the campaign.

The changes have been met with a mixed reaction from fans, managers and clubs, with Europe’s governing body accused of not involving them in the decision-making process.

However, as part of the updates, the number of teams competing has also increased from 32 to 36, with the potential opportunity for a fifth Premier League team to qualify.

As things stand, it’s set to be very tight competition for that final Champions League spot between Italy, Germany and England’s top-flight divisions. 

MORE: Which teams have qualified for Champions League knockout stage 2023/24? Round of 16 schedule, draw and how it works

Will 5th in the Premier League qualify for Champions League spot?

As of the start of March 2024, the Premier League will not be one of the leagues to benefit from an extra UEFA Champions League spot in 2024/25. That’s because their coefficient ranking isn’t strong enough.

UEFA’s own data indicates that the European Performance Spots — two of the additional four places in the expanded Champions League, which will be awarded to the leagues with the best coefficients in 2023/24 — will be going to Italy and Germany as things stand. That would mean the fifth-place teams in Serie A and the German Bundesliga would take the European Performance Spots and thereby qualify for the 2024/25 Champions League.

This is all because Italy and Germany had been performing better in UEFA’s coefficient rankings thanks to the performances of their club teams in Europe this season. The Premier League, meanwhile, was hurt by Manchester United and Newcastle United finishing bottom of their respective Champions League groups.

However, things will have changed following the Round of 16. Borussia Dortmund’s progress to the quarterfinals will boost Germany’s ranking, but with Napoli and Inter Milan exiting the competition, Italy’s claim to one of those top-two spots has weakened.

Should things change and the Premier League can claim one of the extra places, it would mark the first time since 2005/06 that five English clubs have qualified for the Champions League. That season, it was due to Liverpool winning the 2005 final and finishing fifth in the Premier League with UEFA granting them a ‘champions’ spot.

The opportunity to gain an extra place via the league route depends on the final UEFA coefficient rankings for each European league at the end of 2023/24.

If the Premier League finishes in the top two of UEFA’s final rankings, it will be given an extra place.

UEFA Champions League coefficient latest 2023/24

UEFA’s coefficient rankings will determine which country earns a fifth Champions League qualifying spot next season. The top two will gain one of the extra places.

These are the standings as of before the Champions League matches on March 6, 2024, which are worked out by taking the country’s coefficient points and dividing them by the number of their teams in UEFA competitions to gain an average figure.

This table will be updated when UEFA’s latest rankings are made available after the Round of 16.

2023/24 UEFA club coefficients rankings

Rank Country Av.
1. Italy 16.571
2. Germany 15.928
3. England 15.000
4. France 14.416
5. Spain 14.187
6. Czechia 13.000
7. Belgium 12.400

*The top two will gain an extra UEFA Champions League place for 2024/25

How are UEFA coefficient rankings worked out?

UEFA coefficient rankings are worked out based on the performances of each association/league in European club competitions within five-year cycles.

Each association/league are awarded points based on how well their teams do in Europe, which are all added into a final total.

Points are awarded as follows:

  • 2 – All wins from group stage (UCL, UEL, UECL)
  • 1 – All wins in qualifying and play-off matches (UCL, UEL, UECL)
  • 1 – All draws from group stage (UCL, UEL, UECL)
  • 0.5 – All draws in qualifying and play-off matches (UCL, UEL, UECL)
  • 4 – Group stage bonus participation (UCL)
  • 4 – Round of 16 bonus participation (UCL)
  • 4 – Group winners (UEL)
  • 2 – Group runners-up (UEL)
  • 2 – Group winners (UECL)
  • 1 – Group runners-up (UECL)
  • 1 – Each round clubs reach from the round of 16 (UCL, UEL)
  • 1 – Each round clubs reach from the semi-finals (UECL)

The 2023/24 season is the final campaign in the current five-year period and will be crucial in deciding if the Premier League is granted an extra spot for the incoming years.

Points are earned by teams remaining in European competition, and the Premier League have seen Manchester United and Newcastle eliminated from Europe after bowing out at the Champions League group stage, both finishing bottom of their groups.

Six from eight Spanish sides reached the knockout stages across those three European club tournaments, seven from seven for Italy/Serie A, and six from seven for Germany/Bundesliga. For English teams, it’s six from eight.

Champions League new format and changes for 2024/25

The 2024/25 Champions League will involve a 36-team league with each team playing eight games — an increase of two from the previous group stage format — to decide if the qualify for the Round of 16 knockouts.

The top eight teams in the league will qualify automatically with those placed from ninth to 24th competing in two-legged playoffs to secure their place.

Who will qualify for 2024/25 Champions League?

With the coefficient table still taking shape, UEFA have confirmed which league will be receiving automatic places in the 2024/25 Champions League.

Regardless of the final coefficient placings, the Premier League’s top four from 2023/24 will qualify for the Champions League in 2024/25, with four spots also given to Spain, Germany and Italy.

The move to boost the number of teams from 32 to 36 comes via two extra spots from coefficients, an extra playoff qualifier and third place in France’s Ligue 1 being upgraded from a qualifying round spot to a place in the competition.

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