Huge Champions League change to benefit Newcastle United - if Brighton or Aston Villa don’t get there first
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It's still very early days in the Premier League this season and recent form will give Newcastle United supporters confidence that the side can rise up from their current eighth place in the top flight. Early defeats to Liverpool, Manchester City and Brighton meant a slightly slower start than hoped for from the Magpies, but those in-form teams were always going to be tough tests for Eddie Howe's men.
Meetings with Crystal Palace, Wolves and Bournemouth in four league matches look enticing opportunities to rack up the points. With Liverpool back at it, Brighton relentless and Aston Villa firing, even a strong run of wins could still leave Newcastle United fighting tooth and nail for European qualification next term.
It’s therefore poignant to note upcoming changes to Champions League qualification with the Premier League likely to get the chance to send an extra team to the group stage next term. That will all depend on the leagues across the continent with the best ‘coefficient’.
Football supporters will be familiar with that term from how the competition’s group stage pots are worked out and if the Premier League is classed in the top two leagues across Europe, then an extra spot will be granted. This would then go to the team that finishes fifth in the Premier League.
That head-turning news isn’t guaranteed, but only once in the last seven seasons has the Premier League failed to be classed in the top two European leagues. That was in 2019/20 when La Liga and Bundesliga took the crown. Here’s how it’s panned out in recent times.
- 2016-17: Bundesliga and Premier League
- 2017-18: Premier League and La Liga
- 2018-19: Premier League and La Liga
- 2019-20: La Liga and Bundesliga
- 2020-21: Premier League and La Liga
- 2021-22: Premier League and Eredivisie
- 2022-23: Premier League and Serie A
There is a slight complication the Premier League will have to contend with to make its way into the Champions League’s top two leagues this season. The top flight has eight clubs in Europe this season after West Ham won the Europa Conference League and didn’t qualify for Europe domestically.
That large number of teams means that every club’s win in Europe is worth slightly less to the coefficient score, as it’s an average of eight clubs rather than seven. The last time the Premier League had eight sides in Europe was 2015/16 and it only finished third in the coefficient ranking - although that year Southampton and West Ham failed to make it through the qualifying rounds whereas this year all sides have progressed to the group stages.
The Premier League will likely find out its fate as results begin to play out in March but it could go right down to the wire. A gang of top flight clubs will be watching with eagle eyes as Newcastle United, Brighton, Aston Villa, West Ham, Manchester United and Chelsea all look destined to fight over European spots.