UEFA coefficient: Why Premier League's hopes of fifth spot next season are now over

  • The 2024/25 Champions League will be drastically different
  • The Premier League have failed to earn an extra spot in next season's Champions League
  • Two European leagues will have a fifth place in next year's competition
Tottenham were hopeful of securing Champions League football
Tottenham were hopeful of securing Champions League football / DARREN STAPLES/GettyImages

With the Premier League season drawing to a close, some sides are having to come to terms with the brutal reality of the English top flight.

Some of the division's most prestigious clubs dreamt of Champions League qualification at the start of the season, but the likes of Manchester United, Newcastle United and Chelsea have fallen well short of that fabled fourth spot, while Tottenham look almost certain to miss out.

They had been handed hope earlier in the season, however, with a change in the 2024/25 Champions League format meaning it was possible for five Premier League teams to qualify for next season's competition. Unfortunately, that prospect has been dashed in recent weeks.

Here's why the Premier League has missed out on an extra Champions League place.

How has the 2024/25 Champions League format changed?

The Champions League format has changed for next season / FABRICE COFFRINI/GettyImages

From next season onwards, the Champions League we know and love will change. The tournament has been expanded from 32 to 36 clubs, while the traditional group stage has been removed entirely.

Instead, all 36 sides will be placed into a single league table, with each team playing eight games during the league phase - four home and four away. Those matches will be decided by a seeding system that includes four separate pots, with teams playing two sides from each pot - one home and one away.

After the league phase is completed, the top eight teams will qualify automatically for the last 16. Teams placed from ninth to 24th will then face off in a two-legged play-off, with sides from ninth to 16th playing sides from 17th to 24th. Teams placed 25th or below are eliminated, with no clubs now dropping into the Europa League.

The eight automatic qualifiers will then be drawn against the eight play-off winners in the last 16, with the competition then continuing in its current format from the last 16 onwards.

Why are more Champions League places available?

Due to the competition having four more participating clubs, there are extra Champions League qualification spots up for grabs. One of the places will be available to a domestic champion of a league across Europe, although they will then have to qualify for the league phase.

However, the other places are decided by UEFA coefficients. An extra place will be given to the team that finished third in the European league that is fifth in the UEFA access list (France) - decided on by coefficient rankings from the past five seasons up until the end of the 2022/23 campaign.

The other two slots are handed to an extra team in the top division of the pair of countries with the best coefficient rankings.

How do UEFA coefficients work?

Put simply, UEFA coefficients are based on the performances, and subsequent coefficient rankings, of clubs from associations across Europe. For example, the better English clubs do in UEFA competitions like the Champions League and Europa League, the higher England's coefficient.

How Premier League missed out on fifth Champions League spot

Borussia Dortmund v Paris Saint-Germain: Semi-final First Leg - UEFA Champions League 2023/24
The success of German clubs in Europe cost the Premier League / Ralf Ibing - firo sportphoto/GettyImages

The Premier League would have earned an extra qualifying spot had England had a higher coefficient ranking, with the team that finished fifth in the top flight securing automatic passage to the league phase of next season's competition.

However, due to the underwhelming performances of English clubs in Europe this season and the strong displays of German clubs in particular, the Premier League has missed out on an extra qualifying spot.

Italy have the top coefficient ranking among Europe's leagues, while Germany sit second in the rankings ahead of England in third. With Aston Villa the only English club to make it to the semi-final of a European competition, England cannot surpass Germany in terms of coefficient.

As a result, Italy and Germany will have five teams in the league phase of the Champions League next season.

UEFA coefficient table



















*Last updated at 17:00 BST on 7 May 2024