England set to have four automatic Champions League places
Published 25/08/2016 | 13:56
England is set to have four guaranteed places in the Champions League group stage from the 2018-19 season, Press Association Sport understands.
Currently there are automatic spots for three English clubs, with a fourth having to qualify through a play-off, as Manchester City did this week after finishing fourth in the Premier League last term.
It is understood a revamp will see the top four nations in UEFA's rankings for club competitions - currently Spain, Germany, England and Italy - each get guaranteed places for the teams finishing in the top four in those leagues.
An announcement on the matter is expected from European football's governing body on Friday, with a series of meetings having taken place on Thursday after several months of UEFA consultations with stakeholders.
It comes at a time when the threat of a breakaway European Super League has appeared considerable.
Five of the English game's established powers - Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool - denied they were involved in discussions for such a tournament earlier this year.
Representatives from the clubs had met in London with Relevent Sports, organisers of the pre-season friendly competition the International Champions Cup, which it was said the talks were primarily about.
Adjustments to the current format of the Champions League can only begin in 2018 as that is when the next three-year commercial cycle starts.
It is understood the biggest push for change has come from Spain and Italy, the nation that looks set to benefit the most from the alteration.
While currently Spain, Germany and England each have guaranteed group stage spots for their top three finishers with the fourth-placed team going into a play-off, in Italy only the top two qualify automatically with third contesting a play-off.
This week saw Roma lose their play-off against Porto - the third straight year an Italian club has been eliminated at that stage.