Tottenham have the chance to clinch a European place this weekend by beating Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final – but it will not be in the Europa League.
The EFL Cup winners, as of this season, will go into the Europa Conference League (UECL), Uefa’s new third-tier tournament – at the play-off phase, the round before the group stage.
That is unless they have already qualified for Europe through the league, with City guaranteed a Champions League spot already.
Who else can qualify for Europe this season – and is it possible fourth place will not be enough for a Champions League place?
Let us explain…
Who will qualify for the Champions League?
The top four in the Premier League usually qualify for the Champions League group stages – but this season it is quite conceivable that fourth place will not be enough.
The winners of the Champions League and Europa League automatically qualify for the Champions League group stages – and there can only be a maximum of five English teams in Europe’s top competition.
So if Chelsea win the Champions League and Arsenal win the Europa League (both are in the semi-finals) – and both finish outside the top four (as is very possible) – they will be joined in the Champions League by the top three in the Premier League.
That would mean fourth place would only be enough for a Europa League group spot next season.
England does not get any extra Champions League places if English teams win both European tournaments and finish in the top four in the Premier League.
Who qualifies for the Europa League?
This season there are only two Europa League spots, because of the introduction of the Europa Conference League (more on that in a bit).
That is the winner of the FA Cup (Chelsea and Leicester play in the final) and the team which finishes fifth in the Premier League. If the FA Cup winners finish in the top five, then sixth place qualifies for the Europa League.
Only 32 teams are in the Europa League group stages from now on, down from 48 in previous years.
England could end up with only one team in the competition if an English team win a European tournament and also qualify for the Europa League through domestic football.
Who qualifies for Europa Conference League?
The Europa Conference League is Uefa’s new third-ranked competition, effectively a step down from the Europa League.
The winners of the Carabao Cup qualify for the play-offs – unless they qualify for the Champions League or Europa League through their league place or by winning another cup.
If Manchester City win the Carabao Cup – or Spurs do and finish in a European place in the Premier League – then sixth or seventh place in the Premier League (depending on who wins the FA Cup) will go into the Europa Conference League.
There could be no English teams in the tournament if the team who finish in the UECL position win this season’s Champions League or Europe League.
How many English teams qualify for Europe?
Seven Premier League teams qualify for Europe – but in theory, it could be eight or nine if English teams win one or both European tournaments without qualifying for Europe through domestic football.
But if an English team win a European tournament – and qualify for one through domestic football – it does not free up a European space for another English team.
It could also mean instead of four Champions League teams, two in the Europa League and one in the Europa Conference League, the number of teams in each of those tournaments could change.