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What happens if Liverpool win the Europa League? How Champions League qualification works for Premier League teams in 2024

Liverpool are in a fantastic position in the Europa League as they thrashed Sparta Prague to reach the quarterfinals. 

In the quarterfinal draw on March 15, they were paired with Atalanta from Italy.

The semifinal draw also took place, with a Xabi Alonso vs. Jurgen Klopp final in Dublin remaining a possibility.

With Klopp’s men fighting at the top of the Premier League, their qualification for the Champions League next season is all but confirmed as they’re set to finish in the top four. 

The Sporting News takes a look at what would happen if Liverpool were to win the Europa League and finish in the top four. Would that see another English side in the UCL next season?

MORE: Why is Jurgen Klopp leaving Liverpool at the end of the season?

What happens if an English club wins a European trophy?

If a Premier League club were to win the UEFA Europa League, that would see them automatically qualify for the group stage of next season’s competition regardless of their league finishing position.

Given that Liverpool have almost certainly clinched a Champions League place by qualifying through the top four in the Premier League this season, it’s more important to look at what happens if they were to win the Europa League as well. 

According to the Premier League’s official website, if a club win the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League and finish in the top four of the Premier League, their qualification spot for the UCL through their league position is not transferred to a team that finishes outside of the top four. 

UEFA rules on the situation allow for a tiered system, with the Conference League winner stepping up to the Europa League, and the Europa League victor to the Champions League, if either fail to secure a domestic pathway into Europe.

Domestic cup success can also block an overall league finish, with Arsenal’s 2020 FA Cup win putting them in the Europa League for 2020/21, despite finishing ninth, as Tottenham’s sixth-place finish meant a Europa Conference League spot.

Will fifth 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 rankings for 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 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

Liverpool Europa League schedule 2023/24

The quarterfinals are up next for Liverpool, with the tie scheduled for April 11 and 18. The first and second legs will determine their progression to the semifinals.

Round 1st Leg 2nd Leg
Round of 16 playoffs Feb. 15, 2024 Feb. 22, 2024
Round of 16 Mar. 7, 2024 Mar. 14, 2024
Quarterfinals Apr. 11, 2024 Apr. 18, 2024
Semifinals May 2, 2024 May 9, 2024
Final May 22, 2024

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