How Tottenham could benefit if they fail to qualify for Champions League

A grim week for English clubs in Europe has made it almost certain that the Premier League will miss out on an extra place in next season’s revamped Champions League, with the Bundesliga instead poised to be awarded a fifth spot based on German clubs’ collective performances in UEFA competitions.

For Tottenham or Aston Villa, currently scrapping for one spot in the top-four, it means fifth place is only likely to be good enough for the Europa League, which is also being reformatted to a ‘Swiss model’ next season.

For both, however, there is reason to think the Europa League will never have been more winnable.

Unlike in previous seasons, there will be no drop down of clubs from the Champions League after the initial phase (now a 36-team league, rather than eight four-club groups). Once eliminated from a competition, clubs are out of Europe.

This is a huge development.

In the past 11 years, the only Europa League Final not to feature at least one club which had dropped down from the Champions League was Chelsea‘s win over Arsenal in 2019, demonstrating the enormous impact the rule has had.

As things stand then, the five best teams in Germany — almost certain to be Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Stuttgart, RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund — have no chance of playing in the Europa League next season.

The same is true of Italy‘s five best clubs, with the Serie A already guaranteed an additional Champions League place, along with the four best teams in Spain, the top four in France and so on.

The upshot is a Europa League in which Spurs or Villa should start the competition among the favourites and not have to worry about European heavyweights dropping into the knockouts.

Winning the Europa League is considerably easier from next season

That is not to say it will be a stroll; Atalanta, who thrashed Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield last week, may be back in the tournament next season, along with Spain’s Copa del Rey winners Athletic Bilbao.

But Germany’s Europa League sides could be Eintracht Frankfurt (beaten in this year’s group stage by Aberdeen, PAOK Salonika and Union Saint-Gilloise). Nice and Lens — hardly heavyweights — are scrapping for a spot from Ligue 1.

For ambitious managers like Ange Postecoglou, above, and Unai Emery, who has already won the Europa League three times with Sevilla, getting into next season’s Champions League would boost spending power.

But if they are motivated by realistic opportunities to win silverware, being in the new-look Europa League will have its advantages.

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