UEFA rule change set to impact Newcastle United, Man Utd & Aston Villa as Liverpool prepare to have major say
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Last season, seventh place was enough to secure Europa Conference League football, but this season could be quite different. While The Magpies' are currently seventh, they sit five points behind Manchester United in sixth, 10 points behind Aston Villa in fifth and 11 points behind Tottenham Hotspur in fourth with 14 games remaining.
Newcastle qualified for the Champions League last season after finishing fourth in the Premier League. But for the first time, a side finishing fifth in the Premier League could qualify for the Champions League on league position alone.
This is due to a new Swiss-league format introduced by UEFA which will see four more teams enter the competition, which includes one extra place from the top two performing leagues in European competitions.
How extra Champions League place works for 2024-25
The two leagues whose clubs perform the best overall in the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League competitions in 2023-24 will be granted an extra Champions League spot for the 2024-25 campaign.
England has rarely found itself outside of the top two in recent seasons given Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham United's success in European competitions in that time. That is likely to stay the same this season which would see fifth place get Champions League football but, as things stand, it is not a guarantee.
With Newcastle and Manchester United finishing bottom of their respective Champions League groups, six English teams are left across the three European competitions.
England currently sit behind Italy and Germany in the 2023-24 UEFA country coefficients that will decide which two leagues get the extra spot. But this could quickly change when European football returns this week.
Should Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Brighton & Hove Albion, West Ham and Aston Villa all progress in their respective competitions, England would move into the top two UEFA coefficient nations.
Opta analytics claim there is a 77% chance that England will be granted an extra Champions League qualification place this season.
What this means for Newcastle United?
The potential of an extra place in the Champions League does not impact England's places in the Europa League or Europa Conference League as it did when the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool won the Champions League despite finishing outside of the top four.
Should fifth place qualify for the Champions League this season, the automatic Europa League spot drops to sixth place. An additional Europa League spot is given to the FA Cup winners, however, if the winners have qualified for the Champions League or Europa League based on league position then the Europa League spot drops down to the next highest-ranked Premier League side.
Last season Brighton qualified for the Europa League having finished sixth as Manchester City, who won the Premier League and FA Cup, had already qualified for the Champions League.
Hypothetically, if England are granted an extra Champions League place and a side win the FA Cup having already qualified for the Champions League or Europa League, the second Europa League qualification place will drop to seventh.
The impact of the Carabao Cup final: Chelsea v Liverpool
The winners of the Carabao Cup are granted a place in the Europa Conference League unless the club has already qualified for another European competition. Last season Manchester United won the Carabao Cup and qualified for the Champions League which resulted in seventh place Aston Villa qualifying for the Conference League.
This season could prove slightly different as Chelsea and Liverpool prepare to face each other at Wembley Stadium later this month.
Liverpool currently sit top of the Premier League and are on course to qualify for Europe based on their league position alone, meaning a Carabao Cup win would almost certainly result in the next highest-ranked team in the league qualifying for the Conference League. That could potentially drop to eighth place based on the aforementioned criteria.
But Chelsea winning the Carabao Cup could complicate things in terms of European qualification as they currently sit 10th in the Premier League table. Should The Blues finish outside of the European places and win the Carabao Cup, then they will qualify for the Conference League, thus preventing qualification through league position.
The Carabao Cup final takes place on Sunday, February 25 at Wembley Stadium (3pm kick-off). Although some may not want to admit it, a cup win for Liverpool could have potential benefits for the likes of Newcastle, West Ham and Brighton, who are all competing at the lower end of the possible European positions.
How many English teams can qualify for European football?
The European places in the Premier League cannot drop lower than eighth as things stand. But it is technically now possible for as many as 11 English clubs to qualify for European competition.
England currently has an allocation of seven places which could potentially be added to with an extra Champions League spot as well as the winners of all three European competitions in the unlikely scenario that all three finished outside of the European places in the Premier League.
England have had eight clubs in Europe this season as a result of West Ham winning the Conference League while finishing outside of the European places.
It has been suggested UEFA could consider putting a limit on the maximum number of clubs allowed to qualify from the same nation during the same season.