Can There Be 6 English Teams In The Champions League

Can There Be 6 English Teams In The Champions League?

Last updated on October 14th, 2021

Qualifying for the Champions League is considered to be the holy grail in European football. Your team will receive huge financial rewards and be able to attract better players.

Even Arsene Wenger claimed that achieving top 4 in the Premier League is similar to winning a trophy!

Besides being in the top 4 in the Premier League, you can enter the Champions League by either winning the Europa League or Champions League the previous season.

This may make you wonder, is it possible to have 6 English teams in the Champions League?

Can there be 6 English teams in the Champions League?

According to the rules by UEFA, there is a maximum limit of 5 teams from the same league that can qualify. As such, it is not possible to have 6 English teams playing in the Champions League.

UEFA set a limit of 5 teams per association qualifying for the Champions League

UEFA determines how many teams can enter the Champions League from the same league using the UEFA coefficient. This ranks each league based on their teams’ performance in European competitions for the past 5 years.

UEFA refers to each league as an ‘association’ in their rules.

For example, the Premier League is given a coefficient. This is based on how the English teams performed in both the Champions League and the Europa League.

UEFA then uses this coefficient to rank the different European countries. The countries with the top 4 coefficients can have 4 teams qualify for the group stages.

In 2013, UEFA decided that the Europa League winners will have an added bonus for winning the competition. The winners will at least qualify for the play-off round of the Champions League.

With this change, the maximum limit of teams per association was increased from 4 to 5.

As such, it is not possible for 6 Premier League teams to enter the Champions League!

Can 5 Premier League teams qualify for the Champions League?

It is possible for 5 Premier League teams to qualify for the Champions League. The winner of either the Champions League or the Europa League has to be outside of the top 4 positions in the Premier League for this scenario to occur.

England is within the top 4 teams in terms of UEFA coefficient. As such, 4 teams from the PL are able to enter the Champions League.

The way that you can enter the Champions League automatically is through either winning the previous Champions League or Europa League. This automatic slot is provided to your team if they did not qualify for the Champions League based on their league position.

This happened when Manchester United won the 2016-17 Europa League.

However, they were in 6th place in the Premier League. This means that they did not qualify for the Champions League based on their league position!

As such, they were given an automatic slot to enter the Champions League. In the 2017-18 season, there were 5 English teams playing in the Champions League:

  1. Manchester United (Europa League winners)
  2. Chelsea
  3. Tottenham Hotspur
  4. Manchester City
  5. Liverpool (Had to play in the play-offs)

This shows that it is possible for 5 English teams to play in the Champions League!

What happens if 6 English teams qualify for the Champions League?

6 English teams can theoretically qualify for the Champions League if both the Europa League and Champions League winners are outside the top 4 positions in the Premier League. Since UEFA has a limit of 5 teams per league, the fourth-place team in the league will play in the Europa League instead.

This is a very unlikely scenario where both the Champions League and Europa League winners are English teams and are outside the top 4.

However, there is a limit of 5 teams that can come from each association.

In this scenario, the 4th team in the Premier League will not qualify for the Champions League. Instead, they will be playing in the Europa League.

There are consequences for the Europa League too

This also has some consequences in the qualification for the Europa League. A maximum of 3 teams can enter the Europa League per association.

Since the 4th place cannot play in the Champions League, they will enter the Europa League group stage instead. This means that the FA Cup and League Cup winners will get the other 2 spots.

However, the winner of these cups may have already qualified for Europe via another method, such as when they win the Europa League the previous season. In this case, the Europa League spot will be awarded to the next highest team in the league table.

In this way, there can only be 5 teams in the Champions League even if technically there are 6 teams who qualify for it.

Conclusion

There can only be a maximum of 5 English teams that can qualify for the Champions League. This is due to the limit set by UEFA on the number of clubs per association that can enter the Champions League.

You can read my comparisons between the Champions League against the Premier League and the FA Cup to see how these competitions differ.

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