The winners and losers of UEFA coefficient proposal

Arsenal and Atletico Madrid would be the BIG winners if UEFA uses controversial coefficient system to decide next season’s Champions League places while it would be DISASTER for Chelsea and Inter Milan… so, what are the alternatives?

  • UEFA has heard proposal to decide next season’s European places by coefficient 
  • It’s a possible method should the 2019-20 season be cancelled by coronavirus
  • Club coefficients rank five-year Champions League and Europa League success
  • Under this proposal, Arsenal and Manchester United make Champions League
  • But Leicester and Chelsea, in Premier League top four, would miss out
  • With millions of pounds at stake, this method would certainly be controversial 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

UEFA’s 55 member nations are braced for showdown talks on Thursday over the best ways to conclude the football season amid the coronavirus crisis and the temperature is already rising.

With serious doubts over whether the remaining fixtures in several countries will even be completed amid lockdowns and high death tolls, a consensus somehow needs to be found.

Some members, like Belgium and Holland, are leaning towards a complete cancellation of the 2019-20 campaign, with results being expunged. It is believed a number of smaller nations support this position.

Arsenal could play in next season’s Champions League if UEFA accepted a controversial proposal to use their club coefficient to determine which teams qualify  

But it would be bad news for Leicester City, currently third in the Premier League, as the coefficient would place them in next season’s Europa League  

But others, like England and certainly Germany, where the Bundesliga could restart on May 9, are pushing forward on the assumption the season can and will be concluded.

Yet whatever happens, at some point a new season will have to start and that means deciding who qualifies for the Champions League and the Europa League in 2020-21.

One proposal heard in a preliminary conference call on Tuesday was deciding each country’s participants based on the UEFA club coefficient system.

But with millions of pounds of Champions League cash at stake, those who miss out aren’t likely to be happy and a flurry of lawsuits could follow.

We take a closer look at the implications of this and some other potential methods to determine who plays in Europe next season.

This idea will be discussed between UEFA and the influential European Club Association on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s executive committee meeting.

If leagues across Europe can’t be completed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, then spots in next season’s Champions League and Europa League will be allocated using UEFA’s coefficient.

This system takes into account clubs’ performance in Europe over the past five seasons and the further they progress, the more points clubs accrue.

Naturally, more points are awarded for success in the more prestigious Champions League than the Europa League.

UEFA needs to find an acceptable way for its member nations to conclude their seasons amid the Covid-19 pandemic but also determine European qualifiers for the 2020-21 campaign  

The Premier League table as it stands but this could be disregarded if UEFA opts to use their coefficient to determine European places for next season

But allocating next season’s participants along these lines would be incredibly controversial.

Take the current top four in the Premier League standings – Liverpool sit top, followed by Manchester City, Leicester City and Chelsea.

If Man City’s European ban is upheld, then the final Champions League spot would be given to the team in fifth, which is Manchester United.

But if UEFA’s coefficient is used, then England’s four Champions League qualifiers would be Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal. Or if City remain disqualified, Tottenham would be taking their place.

Manchester United would return to the Champions League next season under the coefficient

So that’s really bad news for Leicester City and Chelsea, who’d have to make do with the Europa League, but great news for Arsenal, who are currently ninth in the Premier League and eight points off fourth.

And with Leicester and Chelsea now in the Europa League, that’s terrible for Wolves and Sheffield United, who wouldn’t qualify for Europe at all despite enjoying great seasons.

There would almost certainly be protests and legal action from certain clubs, with Leicester and Chelsea set to miss out on millions in Champions League cash as a result.

The current ranking of Premier League clubs in UEFA’s coefficient – the figure on the left is their overall ranking in Europe. If this was used, Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal would make the Champions League next season, though Tottenham would take City’s place if their European ban is upheld

Chelsea would also lose out on Champions League football is this method was used 

The prize pot for Europe’s top competition, swollen by worldwide television rights and commercial deals, was worth around £1.8billion for the 2018-19 season.

In reaching the final, Tottenham pocketed around £88m, while Liverpool earned £93m for lifting the trophy. In reaching the latter stages, Man City and Man United earned £84m.

By contrast, in winning last season’s Europa League, Chelsea pocketed about £40m in overall prize money. Worth having, but significantly less than the lucrative Champions League.

For many clubs, missing out on the Champions League means reduced transfer budgets and less appeal when it comes to trying to entice star players. The effect is magnified at a time when no matchday revenue is coming in.

There are many other knock-on effects as well if this method was chosen. The wage cut proposal Arsenal presented to their players – and whether they will accept it – hinged on Champions League bonuses.

Mesut Ozil has rejected Arsenal proposals for a 12.5 per cent wage cut that would be handed back if they made next season’s Champions League

The 12.5 per cent wage reduction would be given back, plus a £100,000 bonus, if they made it into the Champions League next season.

Sitting ninth in the table, that looked unlikely, but if the coefficient system is used, suddenly they’re in and the rebels – including £350,000-a-week Mesut Ozil – holding out against the cuts may come around to the idea.

There would be winners and losers in other leading leagues as well.

When Spain’s LaLiga was suspended, the top four were Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla and Real Sociedad, who were on course for the Champions League, while Getafe and Atletico Madrid were heading for the Europa.

But if the UEFA coefficient was used, Atletico would be in the elite competition at Real Sociedad’s expense, while Villarreal and Valencia would be in the Europa, turfing out Getafe.

The UEFA ranking of Spanish clubs – Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla would be heading for the Champions League if this was utilised 

Atletico Madrid, second in the overall coefficient, would gain if it was used for next season

In Italy’s Serie A, the current Champions League qualifiers are Juventus, Lazio, Inter Milan and Atalanta, with Roma and Napoli set for the Europa League.

But the coefficient would see Roma and Napoli qualify for the Champions League at the expense of Inter and Atalanta, who’d have to make do with Europa League football.

UEFA’s coefficient ranking of Italian clubs at the moment with the four Champions League qualifiers Juventus, Roma, Napoli and Lazio if this were used 

Romelu Lukaku and his Inter Milan colleagues would be stuck in the Europa League again

In the German Bundesliga, at present we have Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach heading for the Champions League. Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke are in the Europa League spots.

But if the Bundesliga cannot resume and the coefficient is deployed, Leverkusen and Schalke would take the place of Leipzig and Monchengladbach in the Champions League.

How UEFA’s coefficient of German Bundesliga clubs looks at the moment. Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke are the top four 

Would Timo Werner leave Leipzig if they missed out on next season’s Champions League? 

So it really isn’t difficult to see why this system would prove so controversial.

While it does reward recent good performance in European competition, it is unfair on some clubs enjoying what could be a one-off excellent season while rewarding some enduring mediocre campaigns.

The winners: Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham (if Man City are banned), Atletico Madrid, Villarreal, Valencia, Roma, Napoli, Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke

The losers: Chelsea, Leicester City, Wolves, Sheffield United, Real Sociedad, Getafe, Inter Milan, Atalanta, RB Leipzig, Borussia Monchengladbach



Another option is to simply take Europe’s league tables as they stood when football was suspended and decide the Champions League and Europa League qualifiers that way.

In the majority of leagues across the continent, teams are practically three-quarters of the way through their seasons and the view could be taken that the tables are a fair reflection.

So in the case of the Premier League, Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester City and Chelsea would qualify for the Champions League.

Or Manchester United would take City’s place if their ban is upheld.

It remains to be seen whether Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are banned from Europe

In Spain, this is the method proposed by the country’s football federation (RFEF) to decide the final table if the season can’t be finished.

This has angered fifth-placed Getafe, who are below fourth-placed Real Sociedad only on goal scored.

However, under league rules, they’d normally be split on head-to-head record and Getafe’s is superior having won away at Sociedad.

Real Sociedad would make next season’s Champions League if the current table was used 

Getafe would feel aggrieved if a plan to take the table as it stands was put into action

Premier League qualifiers for Champions League: Liverpool, Manchester City or Manchester United, Leicester City, Chelsea

Europa League: Manchester United or Wolves


This mathematical method predicts the outcomes of the 92 remaining Premier League matches this season using teams’ home and away form.

For each game, the home team’s average points per home game this season is compared against the away team’s average points per away game this season.

To take account of form, an extra weighting for the past five home and away matches respectively is factored into the equation.

If one team’s figure is at least 0.2 greater than the other, they win the match. If it’s less, the match is drawn.

Sheffield United could be in next season’s Champions League if this method is used 

Under this method, Sheffield United would finish fifth and therefore take Man City’s place in the Champions League if City are banned. Man United, meanwhile, would be in the Europa.

Champions League: Liverpool, Manchester City or Sheffield United, Leicester City, Chelsea

Europa League: Sheffield United or Manchester United


This method only counts games from the first 19 rounds of the season to avoid differences in opposition (for example, some sides have played Liverpool twice already which would count against them).

The final table is based upon the results of those first meetings this season and so is at least based entirely on what’s already happened rather than predictions.

Manchester United were in fifth when the season was suspended but this would yet be good enough to make the Champions League if Man City are banned 

However, it takes no consideration of form during the second half of the season or the impact of January signings.

Man United would take City’s Champions League place if they are banned from Europe.

Champions League: Liverpool, Manchester City or Manchester United, Leicester City, Chelsea

Europa League: Manchester United or Sheffield United


This relatively straightforward method produces a final table by dividing teams’ current points totals by games played to get a point-per-game (PPG) average.

Goal difference is then used to separate any teams that finish level on PPG.

The only changes to the table affects those teams with a game in hand, so Sheffield United (1.54 PPG) would leapfrog Wolves (1.48) into sixth position and be assured of Europa League football.

Champions League: Liverpool, Manchester City or Manchester United, Leicester City, Chelsea

Europa League: Manchester United or Sheffield United


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