In the eventuality of Liverpool and Manchester City both securing the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League titles respectively, a fourth place finish in the English Premier League could consign the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal to a Europa League spot for the 2016/17 season.
UEFA mandates that each nation can have a maximum of five clubs representing it in the Champions League. Should Manchester City and Liverpool win their respective European crowns and also manage to finish outside the top 4 in the league, the fourth placed side will have to bow out.
With the rules stipulating that an automatic qualification is in order for teams finishing in the top 3 and those that win either of the European competitions, England’s 5 spots would be decided should the aforementioned scenario pan out. It would mean a 4th place finish would only mean an automatic Europa League qualification spot.
Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester United, the sides that sit around that 4th spot at the moment, while not in any European competition, are all in danger of missing out on Champions League football should City complete the biggest heist the competition has witnessed since Chelsea 2012, and Liverpool turn out surprise winners in the Europa League.
UEFA’s earlier rules stipulated the participation of a maximum of four teams from each football association, a rule that kicked Tottenham out of the 2012/13 Champions League even before it started, as Chelsea won the competition in 2012 and usurped that last possible spot available for England, despite finishing 6th in the league.
Another interesting set of events could see the 8th placed side in the Premier League heading to Europe. The automatic Europa League spots are reserved for the 5th and 6th placed sides in the league and winners of the FA Cup. For Chelsea, it could mean a season that started off with a horrendous title defence under Jose Mourinho could well end with an unlikely European qualification under Guus Hiddink.
Should West Ham win the FA Cup, Liverpool win the Europa League and both sides finish between 5th and 7th spots in the league, the eighth placed side would take their spot in the competition as England’s quota is stretched owing to West Ham’s qualification by virtue of the FA Cup triumph and Liverpool’s qualification into the Champions League.
There is, of course, a very minor chance of the above events transpiring. However, in a season where Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City have defied all odds to take the Premier League by storm, the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool will have enough motivation to push for success in their respective cup competitions knowing that they cannot leave their Champions League fate to rest on their unpredictable Premier League campaigns.