Liverpool would qualify for Champions League despite finishing fifth under new UEFA rules
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Liverpool will be without Champions League football next season for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign.
Manchester United's 4-1 win over Chelsea on Thursday night cemented their spot in the top four and ensured Liverpool will play Europa League football next season.
Jurgen Klopp's side are now guaranteed to finish fifth in the Premier League, a major disappointment considering just how close they came to winning an unprecedented quadruple last term.
The six-time European champions will now have to adapt to Thursday night football and all of the complications that brings.
Finishing fifth can be hugely damaging to clubs at the top level of English football, given the steep drop in prize money in the Europa League and the difficulties in attracting top players.
But in the coming seasons, a fifth-place finish may well be enough to secure Premier League teams a place in the Champions League.
That's because the competition's format is set for a major revamp for the start of the 2024-25 campaign.
Controversial changes will see the Champions League expanded from 32 clubs to 36, with the traditional group stage removed.
Instead, each of the 36 clubs that qualify will each play eight games, with four of those fixtures taking place at home and four away.
The teams who finish between first and eighth in the new league stage will automatically qualify for the last 16 phase.
Meanwhile, teams in ninth to 24th places will contest a two-legged play-off to determine the other eight clubs involved in the last 16.
From there, the knockout stage is unchanged from the current format.
UEFA rule change could benefit Premier League teams
In addition to the changes to Champions League's format, there are also alterations to how clubs will qualify for the new-look competition.
Additional slots will be allocated to the two best-performing European nations over the previous season, using UEFA's co-efficient system, while another slot is given to the fifth-placed nation in UEFA's rankings.
If applied to the current season, England and Italy would both be handed an additional place in the Champions League as a result of their clubs' strong performances in Europe this season.
These additional spots will then awarded on league position, meaning finishing fifth in the Premier League – as Liverpool have done – would be enough to qualify for the Champions League.
Unfortunately for the Reds, these extra qualification places will only be granted based on next season's co-efficient rankings in time for the start of the 2024-25 campaign.
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Topics: Champions League, Football, Premier League, Liverpool