The 2020/21 season will see the introduction of UEFA’s long-anticipated Europa Conference League competition.
Yes, from next season, Thursday nights will never be the same again. And if you’d forgotten about the existence of Europe’s third-tier tournament, you can revisit our Europa Conference League explainer from when it was announced back in 2019.
In short, it’s a way to ensure that clubs from countries outside of Europe’s biggest get a proper experience of continental football without handing out extra Champions League or Europa League places.
But each of UEFA’s major leagues – England included – will send one team into the pre-group Europa Conference League play-offs.
The EFL Cup winners will be England’s entrants, meaning that the final between Manchester City and Tottenham on April 25 could be the decider for qualification.
However, if the winning team qualifies for Europe via another path, the spot will go to the side finishing in the highest Premier League spot that isn’t already a Champions League or Europa League spot: sixth place.
There’s another ‘but’, though. Winning the FA Cup still leads to a Europa League place – but if the winners have already qualified for Europe via the league, then sixth place becomes another Europa League spot, and seventh place becomes the Europa Conference League spot.
So if Chelsea, Manchester City or Leicester nab the cup, the team in seventh are off on a continental jaunt.
In a highly-congested Premier League table, it’s not easy to predict who will finish seventh, and a possible hallowed Europa Conference League qualification (FourFourTwo‘s pre-season prediction placed Wolves there).
At the time of writing, Tottenham are the lucky takers, giving them the potential for a second bite of the cherry should they lose the EFL Cup final to City. Four teams are within four points of them, though: Liverpool are in sixth (meaning they will qualify instead if City win the EFL Cup and Southampton win the FA Cup), while Everton, Arsenal and Leeds lie just behind.
Having been knocked out of the Europa League by a managerless Dinamo Zagreb, perhaps Tottenham will find the Europa Conference League more their level.
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