The Premier League is nearing towards an additional Champions League spot following on from a recent result in Belgium.
This season the English top flight have four sides in Europe’s premier club competition, with holders Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle all learning their group stage opponents last week.
But the race for the top four could become the race for the top five in the near future and it comes after Belgian outfit Club Brugge beat Osasuna 4-3 on aggregate in a two-legged UEFA Conference League play-off.
Osasuna, from La Liga, were actually kicked out of the competition by UEFA in relation to match-fixing charges in two matches a decade ago.
The punishment was then reduced to a heavy fine but their first appearance in European competition in 17 years was premature.
And it’s set to benefit English clubs in a huge way. From the 2024/25 season, a further four teams will be added into the revamped Champions League, which is adopting a league format.
Two spots will go towards the countries leading the “country coefficient” chart each season and England are in a healthy position to take one following on from City and West Ham’s triumphs last season.
The coefficients go off performances in all three European club tournaments and there are bonus points handed out.
The figure is added up and then divided by how many sides each nation has representing them in Europe. In six of the last seven seasons, England would have been awarded an extra spot and so it bodes well going forward.
Because of Osasuna’s early exit, Spain’s chances are extremely slim, with journalist Leonardo Bertozzi of ESPN reporting that it “should now be between Italy and Germany” to compete with England.
This season’s Champions League, where the final will be held at Wembley, will be the last under its traditional format.
From next term, teams will play eight games against seeded opposition in the first phase and they will happen over ten matchweeks.
The top eight in the final table reach the knockout stages, with sides occupying spots from ninth to 24 participating in a play-off which will see the victors progress.