UEFA have announced that ‘sporting merit’ will help decide European qualification in domestic leagues as uncertainty continues to surround the conclusion of the current season.
The remainder of the football season is uncertain at present amid the coronavirus crisis, though there remains a commitment to finish the campaign – if and when it is advised it is safe to do so.
The uncertainty surrounding the global pandemic means that there remains a possibility that leagues cannot be finished, which would leave several situations needing to be resolved, including which clubs qualify for continental competition next season.
UEFA have released a statement saying that European qualification could be decided on ‘sporting merit’, something which has been interpreted as using the average points-per-game to determine the final table if the season is ended prematurely.
Spain’s Football Association has alternatively suggested the possibility of club coefficient taking priority to establish European places, a controversial decision which would see sixth-placed Atletico Madrid elevated into the Champions League at the expense of Real Sociedad given their recent record in European competition.
UEFA has released a statement urging ‘all possible options’ to be considered by national associations at this unprecedented time, though reaffirmed their commitment to completing domestic competitions if possible in a safe environment.
“Uefa urges National Associations and Leagues to explore all possible options to play all top domestic competitions giving access to Uefa club competitions to their natural conclusion,” UEFA said in a statement.
“The ideal scenario, should the pandemic situation permit it, is to have the currently suspended domestic competitions completed enabling football clubs to qualify for Uefa club competitions on sporting merit in their original format.
“Should this outcome not be possible, in particular due to calendar issues, it would be preferable that suspended domestic competitions would restart with a different format in a manner which would still facilitate clubs to qualify on sporting merit.”
As things stand, using the points-per-game solution, league leaders Liverpool are set to qualify for next season’s Champions League alongside Leicester, Chelsea and Manchester United, with second-placed Manchester City having received a two-season ban from European football for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations.
Man City have, however, denied all wrongdoing and the finalising of the Premier League’s European places could change depending on the success of the club’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.