It’s the nightmare scenario for Manchester United fans. They overtake rivals Manchester City to finish fourth in the Premier League this season and still DO NOT qualify for the Champions League next season.
That is because if City win the Champions League and Liverpool win the Europa League, but both finish outside the top four, the fourth-placed side will play in the Europa League next season according to Uefa.
Under UEFA rules, each association is allowed a maximum of five participants competing in the Champions League in any given season.
The winners of the tournament are automatically guaranteed a place in the group stage of the following edition and, since 2014-15, the Europa League winners also qualify for the next season’s Champions League.
That means if City and Liverpool win their European competitions there will only be three places available to Premier League clubs to qualify through the domestic championship.
Manchester City are playing PSG in the Champions League quarter-final with the opening leg at the Parc de Princes on Wednesday night while Liverpool have to overcome Borussia Dortmund at the same stage of the Europa League.
This would not be the first time that a Premier League side has finished in the top four but has been denied a place in the Champions League.
Before Uefa increased the maximum number of teams each association can enter into the Champions League from four to five, Tottenham finished fourth in the 2011-12 season but were sent into the Europa League after Chelsea – who finished sixth that year – won the competition, beating Bayern Munich on penalties.
There are also implications for next season’s Europa League qualification. Currently, Europa League places will go to fifth and sixth place and the winners of the FA Cup.
If West Ham or Manchester United go on to win the FA Cup and finish in the top six, and Liverpool win the Europa League and finish seventh that will extend Europa League qualification to eighth place.