The UEFA Europa League is down to the last four and for the likes of Liverpool and Sevilla it represents a chance to reach the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League.
That feat seems unachievable from their domestic competitions.
This season was the first where the winners of the previous UEFA Europa League gained automatic entry into the UEFA Champions League:
Sevilla taking that berth despite finishing fifth in Spain (they are currently seventh).
That meant Spain had a record five teams in the UEFA Champions League group stage this time around.
UEFA.com runs through the fundamental points and possible scenarios which could affect clubs’ European football participation next term.
Sevilla qualified for the UEFA Champions League via the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League
Where the winners enter
• The UEFA Champions League winners will be entered in the UEFA Champions League group stage as normal.
• The UEFA Europa League winners will be entered in the UEFA Champions League (at a minimum level of the play-offs).
• The UEFA Europa League winners will be elevated into the group stage.
(That is if the UEFA Champions League winners qualify directly for the UEFA Champions League group stage via their domestic league programme.
This is something that has happened last season to the benefit of Sevilla, and indeed every year since the turn of the century bar 2005, 2007 and 2012.)
Maximum of five
• No more than five clubs can enter the UEFA Champions League from one national association (this was an increase on the previous maximum of four).
How it impacts associations’ allocations
• It is now theoretically possible for a country with a potential three UEFA Champions League places (currently Italy, Portugal or France) to up this number to five.[A country with two places (e.g. Ukraine) to increase to four, or a country with one place to up it to three.]
This can only happen if the association in question has two clubs who win both major European club competitions but that also do not qualify via their own league.
Could Liverpool or Manchester City give England a fifth berth?
• Regarding the top three associations (i.e. Spain, Germany and England*):
If two clubs from one of these countries win the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
But if neither finish their domestic league in a position that qualifies them for the UEFA Champions League (something distinctly possible in England with Manchester City and Liverpool), the following will happen:
– The club that won the UEFA Champions League will go straight into the group stage
– The UEFA Europa League winners will go into the UEFA Champions League play-offs
– The club that had qualified for a UEFA Champions League play-off spot via their domestic league competition (i.e. finished fourth) will transfer into the UEFA Europa League
*Please note that all countries mentioned are based on the 2016/17 access list – the associations’ allocation of places may change in subsequent seasons depending on their clubs’ performances.
In addition, the conclusive access list is subject to UEFA’s final approval.