Why Fourth Spot Doesn’t Quite Guarantee Champions League Football for Man Utd or Leicester

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side may still not make the Champions League with a fourth-placed finish | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Leicester City and Manchester United could still miss out on a place in next year’s Champions League if they finish fourth in the Premier League.

The pair are currently locked in a fierce battle for a top-four spot, with Chelsea and Wolves also in the running and just three games of the season remaining.

Bruno Fernandes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Solskjaer's side have been in fine form since the restart, but it could all be for nothing | Pool/Getty Images

Manchester City learned on Monday that the ban excluding them from European competitions has been lifted, meaning they will compete in next year’s edition of Europe’s premier competition. Had the ban not been lifted then the fifth-placed side in this season's Premier League could also have qualified for the Champions League.

Each country is allowed a maximum of five entrants to the Champions League, but the announcement on City’s ban means that Leicester City and Manchester United may still not qualify even if they finish fourth.

With both Chelsea and Wolves still competing in this season’s Champions League and Europa League respectively, if both sides were to win their competitions they would automatically qualify for next season’s Champions League.

This would mean that only the top-three placed teams in the Premier League would qualify, meaning Leicester City and Manchester United could still miss out on next year’s tournament even if they were to finish fourth.

Brendan Rodgers, Eddie Howe
Brendan Rodgers' side have been in free fall since the break | Pool/Getty Images

The scenario is extremely unlikely given that Chelsea are currently 3-0 down from the first leg of their Round of 16 tie against German champions Bayern Munich. The Blues were dismantled by Die Roten in February and still face the daunting task of a trip to the Allianz Arena.

Wolves, meanwhile, are set to resume their Europa League campaign at the Round of 16 stage against Olympiacos. Should they overcome the Greek side they will face either Roma or Sevilla in the quarter-finals.

Nuno Espírito Santo’s men are among the favourites for the competition, though they face stiff competition from the likes of Inter and Manchester United.