Will the top five qualify for the Champions League?

Tuesday 08 August 2023 09:25

As you are probably already aware, the format for the 2024/25 Champions League will undergo a dramatic change.

The big question for some supporters has been is: will the top five Premier League sides qualify automatically for the new-look competition?

The answer is, potentially, yes. 

With an expanded tournament containing 36 teams, there will be an additional place awarded to the two countries whose clubs collectively perform best in UEFA competitions in the season prior, hence the upcoming campaign for the first edition of the new-look Champions League. 

So there is the prospect that the 'top-four race' will be the 'top-five race' but we won't know this until towards the end of the campaign.

For context, the Premier League teams' performances would have merited the extra spot in five of the past six seasons, with Manchester City (Champions League) and West Ham United (Conference League) winning silverware in Europe last time around.

The Premier League has pointed out there could, in theory, be as many as seven English clubs in the Champions League, in the unlikely event the 2023/24 Champions League winners and Europa League victors come from our top flight but finish outside of the top five in the division.

Of course, if the fifth Premier League side does qualify for the 2024/25 Champions League then the Europa League place will go to the sixth-placed team.

The Champions League is undergoing a radical change, with a 'Swiss-style' format, previously used in chess, replacing the group stages. The 36 qualifiers will have a split of home and away games with results forming one big table. The top eight progress to the round of 16 and are joined by the winners of the play-offs (played between clubs placed ninth to 24th).