For the third time in the last five seasons, Liverpool are in the final of the UEFA Champions League, a run of which most clubs around the world would be envious.
The storied English club will be hoping to get past record European title winners Real Madrid on May 28 and make it a treble of trophies to end its current campaign. It also narrowly missed out on the Premier League title, finishing in second place and edged out by a single point.
But there will be some fans in England who will be less interested in whether Liverpool can secure a seventh European crown of their own, and more eager to understand whether a Liverpool victory in the tournament has a potential carryover benefit for their own club.
Thanks to UEFA’s qualification configuration, the Champions League winner automatically qualifies for the following year’s tournament no matter its domestic table finish. This has left some wondering, if Liverpool win the Champions League, do the European qualification berths in England get shuffled around?
The Sporting News breaks down how it all works ahead of the May 28 final.
How does Champions League qualification work?
The number of Champions League places for each European domestic league is determined by UEFA’s “country coefficients”, which are calculated based on the relative strength of each nation’s league, largely taking into account that league’s recent finishes in Champions League action.
As you can imagine, given the recent dominance of Premier League clubs in the Champions League, England is the top-ranked nation in the UEFA coefficient rankings, followed by Spain, Italy, and Germany. Those four nations gain four direct spots in the Champions League group stage for the top four finishers in their respective domestic leagues.
The next two nations, France and Portugal, have three slots in the Champions League: two enter straight into the group stage, and the third-placed team earning a ticket into the third qualifying round.
The remaining Champions League group stage and qualifying slots are divvied up in similar fashion. This year, however, there is an added wrinkle: Due to fallout from Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia has been disqualified from all European competitions.
Therefore, all teams below Russia move up a spot in the coefficient rankings. That allows Scotland to get an automatic berth in the group stage which goes to the Scottish champion.
How would Liverpool winning the Champions League affect qualification?
As stated earlier, there is already a spot reserved in the Champions League group stage for the previous winner of the competition, no matter where it finishes in its domestic league.
So, since Liverpool already clinched a top-four place in the Premier League, would that mean an additional Premier League team would get a Champions League spot if Liverpool beat Real Madrid for the 2022 European crown?
The answer is no. Instead of handing that extra spot to a fifth team from the Premier League, UEFA instead moves down to the next league according to its coefficient list. It gives the vacant group stage spot to the first nation on the list that does not already have an automatic group stage slot.
With Russia banned from the competition, that gift fell to the 12th-ranked league which just so happens to be Ukraine. That nation’s recognized champion will be heading into the group stage (Shakhtar Donetsk after the league was suspended).
Recent Premier League teams to earn Champions League qualification
Here’s the rundown of Premier League teams that finished in the top four in recent years, thus guaranteeing themselves a spot in the Champions League group stage.
There was one exception, of course, when five teams advanced into the group stage. That happened in 2017-18 because Manchester United won the previous season’s Europa League, earning an automatic Champions League berth.
The Red Devils thus joined the top four finishers of the previous Premier League season (Man United had finished in 6th) into the 2017-18 edition of the Champions League.
|Edition||Team 1||Team 2||Team 3||Team 4||Team 5|
|2021-22||Chelsea||Man City||Man United||Liverpool||–|
|2020-21||Liverpool||Man City||Man United||Chelsea||–|
|2018-19||Man City||Man United||Tottenham||Liverpool||–|
|2017-18||Chelsea||Tottenham||Man City||Liverpool||Man United *|
|2016-17||Leicester City||Arsenal||Tottenham||Man City||–|
|2015-16||Chelsea||Man City||Arsenal||Man United||–|
When does 2022-23 Champions League start?
Once the summer hits and the 2021-22 Champions League winner is crowned, a new tournament will be ready to kick off.
- Preliminary Round-Second Qualifying Round: June 21-27, 2022
- Third Qualifying Round: August 2-9, 2022
- Playoff Round: August 16-24, 2022
- Group Stage draw: August 25, 2022
- Group Stage games: September 6-November 2, 2022
- Round of 16 draw: November 7, 2022
- Round of 16 games: February 14-March 15, 2023
- Quarterfinal draw: March 17, 2023
- Quarterfinal matches: April 11-April 19, 2023
- Semifinal matches: May 9-17, 2023
- Final: June 10, 2023 (Istanbul, Turkey)