How the Europa League winners enter the Champions League

We explain how the system works and why it was good news for France whatever happened in Lyon.

Atlético Madrid lift the trophy in Lyon
Atlético Madrid lift the trophy in Lyon ©Sportsfile

This season is the fourth in which the winners of the UEFA Europa League will gain automatic entry into the UEFA Champions League, and the first when they know for sure they will get a group place.

*Please note that the associations' allocation of places may change. In addition, the conclusive access list is subject to UEFA's final approval.

What is the deal this season?

Watch Manchester United win last season
Watch Manchester United win last season

France will end up with three UEFA Champions League places. When Atlético won the UEFA Europa League final, because they have already secured UEFA Champions League football for next season via a top-four Liga finish, the vacancy for the UEFA Europa League holders will be filled by the third-placed club from the association ranked fifth. And that association is ... France.

Who has benefited so far?

Sevilla earned UEFA Champions League places for 2015/16 and 2016/17, then Manchester United booked theirs for 2017/18. On all three occasions, the UEFA Europa League winners had finished outside the UEFA Champions League positions in their domestic league and qualified for the UEFA Europa League group stage as the UEFA Champions League title holders had already qualified for the group stage of that competition.

Where the winners enter

Watch Sevilla’s 2016 win against Liverpool
Watch Sevilla’s 2016 win against Liverpool

• There is a change to the UEFA club competition qualifying system for next season but, as before, the UEFA Champions League winners enter in the UEFA Champions League group stage as normal.

• The UEFA Europa League winners used to be assured of just a UEFA Champions League play-off berth – only going straight into the group stage if either they or the Champions League winners had already qualified via their domestic league (which in fact always happened in the three seasons that rule existed).

• Now, however, the UEFA Europa League winners proceed straight to the group stage regardless of any domestic league outcomes.

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