Who qualifies for the Champions League if Manchester United win the Europa League?
Manchester United are just two games away from European glory in the Europa League. But victory in Stockholm’s final would bring more than just another piece of silverware for the Old Trafford trophy cabinet.
A Europa League win would also guarantee United’s place in next season’s Champions League, with the winners of the tournament sealing a spot in the top tier since 2015 (with Sevilla taking advantage of that rule on both occasions).
Sevilla's Fernando Navarro lifts the trophy as they celebrate winning the UEFA Europa League FinalReuters
But if Jose Mourinho’s side do take that approach, what will it mean for the rest of the Premier League? Could another team miss out? And at what stage would United enter the competition?
How many Champions League qualifiers can the Premier League have?
The Premier League’s maximum number of Champions League teams in a single season is five.
If the winner of either the Champions League or Europa League finishes outside of the qualification places in their domestic table they become an additional qualifier.
Could a top four side miss out on the Champions League this season?
The farcical situation in 2012 that saw Tottenham miss out on a place due to Chelsea (who were outside the top four) taking their spot as the holders has been mercifully corrected.
The only way that the fourth-placed Premier League side could miss out now is if both the Champions League and Europa League winners came from the Premier League and both finished outside the top four. In that scenario only the top three league placings would qualify for the Champions League, with fourth spot dropping into the Europa.
With no English team remaining in the Champions League it is guaranteed that all of the top four sides in the Premier League will qualify this season.
Where will United enter the Champions League if they win the Europa?
The winners of the Europa League are guaranteed to enter the Champions League at the final qualification stage. However, this season the winners are no certain to enter no earlier than the group stage.
Previous winners Sevilla also benefitted from automatic qualification to the group stages, because the Champions League winners had already qualified for the group stage via their domestic league (Barcelona and Real Madrid) ensuring that the additional group stage qualification was awarded to the Europa League winners.
Real Madrid's win over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-final confirms that the winner of Europe's elite competition will have already secured a group stage spot via their domestic division (be that Real or Juventus), meaning that either Manchester United or Ajax will enter next season's Champions League in the group stage rather than qualification.
What happens if United win the Europa League AND finish top four?
In short… nothing. They will still qualify for the Champions League, but only to the qualification stage.
Such an outcome would, however, see the Premier League lose that potential fifth Champions League spot.
What impact would United winning have on the Europa League qualification places?
Every domestic league has a cap for a maximum number of European places. So if Manchester United win the Europa League and finish outside the top four (making it five Champions League qualifiers from England) then the Premier League will drop from three Europa League spots to two.
Potentially this could see the seventh-placed Premier League team shift up a qualification level to enter the Europa League at the third qualification stage.
With the FA Cup winners already guaranteed to be one of the Premier League’s top seven and eighth-placed West Brom out of contention, the seven English representatives will be Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton… but possibly not in that order.