Top four finish might not secure Champions League place now

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Only top three in Premier League may qualify for Champions League
Only top three in Premier League may qualify for Champions League

The team finishing fourth in the Premier League might not be handed a place in next season’s Champions League - if both Manchester City and Liverpool lift European silverware in the next few weeks.

City’s serene progress to the Champions League semi-finals after their win against Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool’s progress in the Europa League is opening up the prospect of a cruel twist of fate for a side that secures fourth spot in England’s top flight.

UEFA rules stipulate that one country can have a maximum of five places in next season’s Champions League, with City and Liverpool qualifying automatically for Europe’s elite competition if they succeed in European competition in the final weeks of the season.

Even if City finish outside of the top four positions in the Premier League, they would cement their position in the Champions League for next season with a win in this season's competition.

Likewise, Liverpool - who head into the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final with Borussia Dortmund with the scores tied at 1-1 - will be back in the Champions League if they lift the second string UEFA trophy, even though their hopes of a top four finish in the English league were extinguished many weeks ago.

This scenario would see the fourth placed side in the Premier League denied entry into the Champions League, with a high profile casualty likely to fill that unfortunate position.

Arsenal and Manchester United could be thrown into the Europa League if they finish fourth in the Premier League, in a repeat of the scenario that faced Tottenham after Chelsea's Champions League win back in 2012.