Premier League record NINE teams could qualify for Europe next season if incredible scenario happens
20th April 2022

A PREMIER League record NINE top flight teams could take part in European competition next season.

Quirks in Uefa’s qualification rules mean that more than half of the Prem sides who avoid relegation this term could end up in midweek competition.

England currently has seven direct places, with four Champions League slots, two in the Europa League and one in the Uefa Conference League – initially for the Carabao Cup winners.

But if West Ham and Leicester, both now semi-finalists, go on to win their respective tournaments, it opens the way for an extra TWO places – as long as neither of them finish in the top seven.

West Ham have the biggest carrot, knowing a victory in the Europa League final in Sevilla next month would earn them a place in the Champions League for the first time – as one of FIVE Prem representatives.

A Leicester win in the Conference League Final would see them earning a spot in next term’s Europa League, alongside the teams who finish fifth and sixth.

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And if Wolves were then to overtake the Hammers and finish seventh, they would earn a spot in the Conference League.

If West Ham win and finish fifth or sixth, the Prem would only have one team in the Europa League, and if they were to triumph and finish seventh there would be no English side in the newest competition.

A Leicester win and finish outside the top seven would mean eight Prem sides in action, including the seventh-placed side in the Conference League.

On the pitch, the Hammers could switch star midfielder Declan Rice to centre-back to solve a defensive crisis as they prepare for next Thursday's semi at home to Eintracht Frankfurt.

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David Moyes' men were already without Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna before Issa Diop hurt his ankle in Sunday’s  1-1 home draw with Burnley.

Now West Ham have just one fit central defender in Craig Dawson.

Moyes may look to shift defensive midfielder Rice into that position, where has played before.

But he will be fearful of breaking up Rice’s partnership with Tomas Soucek in the middle of the park.

So he could instead put full-back Ben Johnson alongside Dawson or turn to England Under-20 international Aji Alese.

How seven could become nine

The Premier League is eyeing a record-breaking number of teams in Europe’s club competitions next term. Here’s a look at how it might just happen.

English football has seven automatic European slots every season:

CL: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th

EL:  FAC winner, 5th

UConfL: Carabao Cup winner

But with Liverpool having won the Carabao Cup – and already assured of a top four spot – and due to meet Chelsea in the FA Cup Final, those spots automatically revert to the Prem

CL: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th

EL:  5th, 6th

UConfL: 7th

If West Ham win the Europa League, they automatically qualify for the Champions League. If they win it and finish in the top six

CL: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, West Ham

EL: 5th OR 6th

UConfL: 7th

If West Ham win Europa League and finish 7th, England still have seven places but no team in the Conference League

CL: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, West Ham

EL: 5th, 6th

UConfL: No entrant

If West Ham win Europa League and finish eighth or lower

CL: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, West Ham

EL: 5th, 6th

UConfL: 7th

If Leicester win the Conference and stay outside the top seven and West Ham do not win the Europa League

CL: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th

EL: 5th, 6th, Leicester

UConfL: 7th

If both West Ham and Leicester win and neither finish in the top seven

CL: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, West Ham

EL: 5th, 6th, Leicester

UConfL: 7th

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