The Champions League could feature five English clubs on a regular basis from 2024 after a major overhaul of the competition was agreed on Tuesday – and up to seven in exceptional circumstances.
More than a year of intense debate about the best way forward for Europe’s premier club competition following the collapse of the Super League has concluded, with UEFA deciding to award two places in a new, expanded 36-team league system to clubs from the two countries who collectively performed best in Europe’s club competitions in the previous season.
England would have gained an extra place in four of the last five seasons had this system been in use.
In theory seven English teams could qualify in a single season in this new model – the top four in the Premier League, a fifth-placed team via the country coefficient and the winners of the Champions League and the Europa League, if these were all different clubs.
A senior UEFA official described this scenario as being “as likely as a meteorite hitting this room” but it is nevertheless a possibility.
UEFA ditched an original proposal to award places based on an individual club’s performance in Europe over the past five seasons, which critics said created a safety net for big clubs who performed poorly domestically and had echoes of the Super League.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin lauded the agreement as proof that European football was “more united than ever”, but there remain some questions about just how open the new competition will be.
The current coefficient scoring system awards bonus points for Champions League group stage qualification – which means those countries which already benefit from four places are at an advantage from the start.