Europa League vs Premier League

Europa League vs Premier League – What’s The Difference?

Last updated on September 11th, 2022

There are many football competitions that teams will play, such as the Premier League and the Europa League.

So how are these 2 competitions different from each other?

Here’s what you need to know:

The difference between the Europa League and Premier League

The Premier League is a double round-robin competition that involves the top 20 English teams. Meanwhile, the Europa League consists of a group stage and a knockout round and involves the top 32 clubs that do not qualify for the Champions League.

Here is an in-depth explanation of the differences between these 2 competitions:

Number of teams involved

The Europa League contains 32 teams from European football. These teams are usually those who do not make it to the Champions League.

Meanwhile, the Premier League is a league that contains the top 20 teams in the English leagues.

In fact, the Premier League actually used to contain 22 teams, before finally reducing to 20 teams!

Origin of teams

The Europa League consists of the top teams that come from the different UEFA countries. Currently, there are 55 member countries that are in UEFA.

To qualify for the Europa League, your team has to originate from a member country of UEFA. Otherwise, you will have to play in the continental competition where your country is from.

The Europa League will contain a lot of teams that you may not have heard of, as these are usually the teams that are not the champions of their respective domestic leagues.

Some teams you may not have heard of include:

of Origin
Sturm GrazAustria
Ludogorets RazgradHungary

There is definitely a wider variety of teams that are found in the Europa League, as they may not come from the top leagues in football including:

  1. Premier League
  2. La Liga
  3. Bundesliga
  4. Serie A
  5. Ligue 1

Meanwhile, the Premier League only contains teams that are from England. These are the top 20 teams in the entire English football system.

However, due to historical reasons, it may be possible that some Welsh teams can play in the Premier League too!

Frequency and duration of competition

Both competitions occur on a yearly basis, as part of the club football calendar.

The Europa League usually runs the span of around 10 months, between July to May. The first few matches in July are the qualifying rounds.

The group stages will only start in September, one month after the European football season has started.

Meanwhile, the Premier League starts in August and ends in May. It is slightly shorter compared to the Europa League.

The Premier League matches are played almost every week, apart from international friendlies and weekends reserved for cup competitions.

Format of competition

The Europa League consists of a group stage, and then a knockout round.

The top 2 teams from each group will progress onto the knockout round of the Europa League.

Meanwhile, the 3rd team in the group stages will participate in knockout round qualification in the Europa Conference League.

If you’re wondering what happens if the top teams have the same points in the group stages, you can check out this article to find out more.

Meanwhile, the Premier League follows a double round-robin league format. Each team will play against the other 19 clubs in the league.

For the Premier League, consistency is more important. However for the Europa League, it is crucial for you team to be able to perform when required!

Number of matches played

For the Europa League, the number of matches your team plays depends on how far they go into the competition.

Here are the number of matches your team will play in total if they reach the final from the Group Stages:

of Matches
Group Stages6
Round of 162

As such, the maximum number of matches that your team can play in the Europa League is 13. If your team gets knocked out in the earlier stages, they will play fewer matches.

However, if your team is in second place of a Europa League group, they will need to play a qualification round for the round of 16 against the third-placed team in the Champions League. This means that your team will play 2 extra games, leading to a total of 15 games.

If your team is in the Premier League, they will play 38 matches. This is because your team will play against the other 19 clubs in the league, both home and away.

Squad size

Each club in the Premier League can only have 25 players. A maximum of 17 players are considered to be ‘non-homegrown’.

For the Europa League, the squad size is similar.

The first list (List A) has a maximum of 25 players, where 8 of them have to be homegrown players. Meanwhile, the second list (List B) consists of players who are born on or after 1 Jan 1995 as well as other requirements.

There can be an unlimited number of players who are registered on List B.

You can read more about the ‘homegrown’ rule in the Premier League, Europa League and other competitions in my guide here.

Qualification for competition

In the Europa League, there are 3 ways that you can qualify for the competition:

Europa League
League positionHighest league position that
does not qualify for Champions League
Cup winnersYes
Previous season’s winnerEuropa Conference
League winners

If you win certain cup competitions such as the FA Cup or Copa del Rey, you will qualify for the Europa League if you had not already qualified for the Champions League.

To qualify to be in the Premier League, your team will need to be in the top 20 football teams in the English football pyramid. If they are starting at the bottom of the pyramid, they will need to get promoted to the different tiers, and ultimately reach the Premier League.

One of the most gruelling competitions is the EFL Championship, which is the second tier of English football. There are 24 teams that are competing for 3 spots in the Premier League.

The teams that are in 3rd to 6th place will compete in the Championship playoffs. This is one of the most intense competitions, especially since there is a Premier League spot at stake!

Loan player rules

There are some differences in the rules regarding loan players in both competitions. For the Premier League, the rules explicitly state that loan players cannot play against their parent club in Premier League matches.

However, this is not mentioned in the rules of the Europa League. This means that loaned players are able to play against their parent clubs!

You can read more about the loan players rules in the different leagues with my guide.

Rewards for winning competition

Here are the rewards you’ll receive when you win either competition:

Europa LeaguePremier League
Prize MoneyHigherLower
Qualification for next
season’s Champions League
for Super Cup
UEFA Super CupFA Community Shield

When comparing between the 2020/21 prize money that the winners received in the Premier League and the Europa League, the Premier League winners received much more (£153.9 million vs £7.5 million).

This could probably be due to the huge amount of TV money that the Premier League generates.

Furthermore, the winners of both the Premier League and the Europa League will be guaranteed automatic qualification to the UEFA Champions League group stages.

In terms of the Super Cup competitions that they play, the Premier League winners will play against the FA Cup winners in the FA Community Shield.

Meanwhile, the Champions League winners will play against the Europa League winners in the UEFA Super Cup.

You can find out whether the Europa League can be considered a major trophy here.


Here is a summary of the comparison between the Europa League and the Premier League:

Europa LeaguePremier League
Number of
teams involved
of teams
UEFA countriesEngland
Frequency of
Duration of
10 months10 months
Format of
Group Stage
+ Knockout
Number of
matches played
Up to 1538
Squad size25 + List B
Qualification  for competitionHighest league position
that does not qualify for
Champions League

Cup winners

Europa Conference
League winners
Top 20 teams
in England
Loan player rulesCan play
against parent club
Cannot play
against parent club
Prize moneyLowerHigher
Europe qualificationChampions LeagueChampions League
Super CupUEFA Super CupCommunity Shield


Both the Europa League and Premier League are important football competitions that happen during the season.

Due to the prestige that the Premier League has in terms of prize money, most players may still hold this competition in higher regard!

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