Premier League vs Champions League

Revealing The 9 KEY Differences Between Premier League and Champions League

Last updated on January 12th, 2023

There are quite a few football competitions that are rather popular in the world.

2 of the more common ones you may have heard of include the Premier League and the Champions League.

So what are these competitions and how do they differ?

Here’s what you need to know:

The difference between Premier League and Champions League

The Premier League includes the top 20 teams in English football, while the Champions League involves the top 32 clubs from the various European leagues. The format of the Premier League is a double round-robin competition, while the Champions League has a group stage and a knockout round, before ending in the Champions League final.

Here is an in-depth comparison between these 2 competitions:

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Number of teams involved

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!

Meanwhile, the Champions League contains the top 32 teams in European football.

However, this only measures the number of teams in the main competition. There will be quite a few teams that were involved in the qualifying rounds which do not make the cut.

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Origin of teams

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!

Meanwhile, the Champions 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 UEFA Champions 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.

This gives a wide variety of teams that feature in the Champions League. One such team is FC Sheriff Tiraspol, which originates from Moldova.

This club gained prominence in the world after beating Real Madrid at home!

Frequency and duration of competition

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

The Champions League usually runs the span of around 11 months, usually between June to May. This is because each group stage matchday is played every alternate week.

Due to the congested fixture schedule for European clubs, each matchday is usually a few weeks apart.

The Champions League final is usually played after the end of all the European leagues.

In this way, the Champions League is like a curtain closer for the entire year’s football season.

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

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

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For the Champions League, the matches are played during the midweek, and the matches are not usually played consecutively. This could be why the duration of the Champions League takes one extra month compared to the Premier League.

Format of competition

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

For the Champions League, it contains a group stage, and then a knockout round.

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

The knockout round is similar to most cup competitions, such as the FA Cup and the Copa del Rey.

The Champions League contains 2 legs for each knockout round. This means that the teams will play both at home and away.

This is because the knockout rounds of the Champions League are played at the home stadium of both clubs. This ensures that there is no ‘unfair’ advantage of only one team playing in their home ground.

In this way, there is an equal chance for both teams to perform well in front of their fans!

Number of matches

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

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For the Champions League, the number of matches you play depends on how far you go into the competition.

Here are the number of matches you’ll play in total if you reach the final from the Group Stages:

of Matches
Group Stages6
Round of 162
Quarter Finals2
Semi Finals2

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

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 Champions 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, Champions League and other competitions in my guide here.

Qualification for competition

To qualify to be in the Premier League, you will need to be in the top 20 football teams in the English football pyramid. If you are starting at the bottom of the pyramid, you 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!

For the Champions League, there are teams that automatically qualify for the tournament. This can be based either on their league position, or their performance in the UEFA competitions.

If you win either the Champions League or the Europa League, your team will automatically qualify for the tournament.

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 Champions League. This means that loaned players are able to play against their parent clubs, and it actually has happened quite a few times!

One of the more notable ones was when Philippe Coutinho played for Bayern Munich, against his parent club (Barcelona).

He came off the bench to score 2 goals and produce 1 assist against Barcelona!

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

Rewards for winning the competition

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

Premier LeagueChampions League
Prize MoneyHigherLower
Qualification for next
season’s Champions League
for Super Cup
Community ShieldUEFA Super Cup

When comparing the 2020/21 prize money that the winners received in the Premier League and the Champions League, the Premier League winners received much more (£153.9 million vs £16 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 Champions 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.


Here is a summary of the comparison between these 2 competitions:

Premier LeagueChampions League
of teams
of teams
Duration10 months11 months
FormatDouble round-robinGroup stage +
knockout rounds
of matches
38Maximum of 13
Squad size25 (17 homegrown)25 (17 homegrown)
QualificationTop 20 teams in EnglandLeague position and Champions
League / Europa League winners
Loan player rulesCannot play
against parent club
Can play
against parent club
Prize MoneyHigherLower
Qualification for next
season’s Champions League
for Super Cup
Community ShieldUEFA Super Cup

Is the Premier League or Champions League more prestigious?

The Premier League is one of the most popular football leagues in the world, although it has stiff competition from the other top European leagues. Meanwhile, Europe is known to be the best football continent in the world, hence winning the Champions League may be seen as more prestigious.

The Premier League is one of the top leagues in the world, and many players would dream of winning it. However, when compared to the Champions League, I’m sure that most players would rather win the Champions League.

The Champions League has much higher quality teams that compete against each other. This makes the matches much more exciting with many top players playing against each other.

In fact, you may even consider the Champions League to be on the same level of prestige as the World Cup!

That being said, both competitions have their own level of prestige, and it really depends on your own opinion regarding this.

Has any team won Premier League and Champions League in the same season?

Currently, only Manchester United has won both the Premier League and the Champions League within the same season on two occasions: the 1998/99 season and the 2007/08 season.

YearPremier League and
Champions League Winners
1998/99Manchester United
2007/08Manchester United

Not many teams have been able to achieve this feat so far!

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The Premier League and the Champions League are 2 of the top footballing competitions in the European football season.

While the Premier League is one of the more popular leagues, the Champions League may be considered as a much tougher competition due to the quality of all the teams!

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