UEFA: Champions League and Europa League qualification must be 'on sporting merit'

Jordan Henderson lifts the Champions League trophy
Image: UEFA calculates its coefficients based on results of the five previous seasons of Champions League and Europa League participation

Qualification for next season's Champions League and Europa League must be 'on sporting merit', according to UEFA regulations.

UEFA's most powerful officials will discuss the growing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, after further conference calls with all 55 associations and clubs this week.

Article 4 of UEFA's Champions League and Europa League regulations states: "To be eligible to participate in the competition, clubs must have qualified for the competition on sporting merit."

A view outside UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland
Image: UEFA's coefficient system penalises clubs that have not regularly competed in recent European competitions

The Sun has reported European football officials have been urged to order associations to use UEFA coefficient scores to determine which teams will qualify for European club competitions next season.

UEFA calculates its coefficients based on results of the five previous seasons of Champions League and Europa League participation, or over one season.

Under the current rankings, Manchester City (6), Liverpool (8), Manchester United (9) and Arsenal (10) are the top-four ranked sides in England, ahead of Tottenham (13), Chelsea (14), Leicester (70) and Wolves (85).

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted some of the gross inequity within the game
Image: Manchester City have been banned from European competition for two years

Manchester City have been banned from all European competitions for two seasons after breaching financial fair play rules and have appealed the decision.

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But UEFA's coefficient system penalises clubs that have not regularly competed in recent European competitions.

Sheffield United are currently seventh-placed in the Premier League, level on points with Wolves and two points behind fifth-placed Manchester United.

Billy Sharp celebrates his goal with team-mates
Image: Sheffield United are currently seventh-placed in the Premier League

The FA, which determines how clubs from England qualify for European competitions, has yet to outline its position should there be difficulties in finishing the domestic season.

On Tuesday, a UEFA working group assessing the football calendar gave a "strong recommendation" that top domestic leagues and cup competition finish their season.

But UEFA conceded that in "some special cases" there will be guidance for leagues that cannot complete their season.

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