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Champions League 5th place: Man Utd and Newcastle exits may affect Premier League's hopes of additional spot

Manchester City players celebrate as then captain Ilkay Gundogan lifts the Champions League trophy
Manchester City are the holders of the Champions League

Manchester United and Newcastle United’s early European exits have left the Premier League currently missing out on an extra Champions League place next season.

The two most successful countries in Europe will each secure one extra spot in next year’s revamped competition.

At the end of the Champions League group phase, Germany’s Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A are leading the table, followed by England with Spain in fourth.

The 2024-25 Champions League will have 36 teams, up from 32 in 2023-24.

How is the Champions League format changing?

Since 2003-2004, the group phase has seen eight groups, each containing four clubs, with a team playing the other three on a home and away basis, with the top two advancing into the knockout phase.

Next year, 36 clubs will compete in what is known as a ‘Swiss’ format, with everyone playing eight matches against eight different opponents, with four home games and four away.

The top eight clubs will progress straight into the last 16, with those from ninth to 24 meeting in two-legged play-offs with the winners advancing.

How are the extra places decided?

Two extra places will go to the best performing leagues in Europe this season. Realistically, the additional places will go to two nations out of Germany, Italy, Spain and England.

This means the team who finishes fifth in the Premier League this season could automatically qualify for the Champions League.

Uefa’s association coefficient rankings – based on the results of all European clubs in Uefa competitions – decide which two leagues will benefit from the additional places.

Every win by a club from a nation is worth two points and a draw one.

Bonus points are then accrued by progressing through various stages of each competition, with it weighted in favour of teams performing well in the Champions League, then the Europa League and then the Europa Conference League.

All points earned by clubs from each country are added up before being divided by the number of teams from that nation in Europe – eight in the Premier League’s case.

One place will go to the third-placed team in the domestic league that is ranked fifth in the Uefa coefficient – currently the Czech Republic.

The last of the extra spots will go to the qualifying path for champions. Four teams used to come through this route into the group phase, but from next season it will be five. The place cannot go to a team from the top 10 leagues as their champions do not go through qualifying.

How the rankings stand at the moment?

In six of the past seven seasons, England would have qualified for that extra ‘most successful’ spot but this season’s group-stage exits of Newcastle and Manchester United leave them in third, behind Germany and Italy.

Italy saw all seven of their sides advance through the group stages, while Union Berlin were the only German team to not make it through.

Spain lost Sevilla from the Champions League but still have six remaining European hopes.

With Manchester United and Newcastle finishing bottom of their Champions League groups, defending champions Manchester City and Arsenal are the two English sides left in.

However, Brighton, Liverpool and West Ham are all in the last 16 of the Europa League, with Aston Villa at the same stage in the Conference League.

If those sides go on to lift a trophy, as the Hammers did last season by winning the Conference League, that could prove to be the difference.

According to Opta, England still has a 77% chance of securing the extra Champions League spot for 2024-25, with Italy (50.4%) and Germany (48.3%) next most likely.

Country Champions League Europa League Conference League
Germany Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig Bayer Leverkusen, Freiburg Eintracht Frankfurt
Italy Inter Milan, Lazio, Napoli AC Milan, Atalanta, Roma Fiorentina
Spain Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad Villarreal Real Betis
England Arsenal, Manchester City Brighton, Liverpool, West Ham Aston Villa
Belgium Club Bruges, Gent, Union Saint-Gilloise
France Paris St-Germain Lens, Marseille, Rennes, Toulouse Lille
Turkey Galatasaray Fenerbahce
Denmark Copenhagen
Czech Republic Slavia Prague, Sparta Prague Viktoria Plzen
Netherlands PSV Eindhoven Feyenoord Ajax
Portugal Porto Benfica, Braga, Sporting Lisbon
Greece Olympiakos, PAOK
Poland Legia Warsaw
Norway Bodo Glimt, Molde
Israel Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Slovakia Slovan Bratislava
Scotland Rangers
Switzerland Young Boys Servette
Hungary Ferencvaros
Croatia Dinamo Zagreb
Azerbaijan Qarabag
Austria Sturm Graz
Ukraine Shakhtar Donetsk
Bulgaria Ludogorets

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