Europa League winners to qualify for Champions League
CHANGES to Champions League rules agreed today could see Europe's top nations including England having up to five teams in UEFA's top club competition.
From 2015, the Europa League winners as well as the European champions will qualify automatically for the following season's Champions League, UEFA sources have confirmed to Press Association Sport.
But they will no longer take a place from the Premier League if they finish outside of the top four - as happened controversially with Tottenham last season when Chelsea won the Champions League but finished sixth.
The principle was agreed by UEFA's executive committee today and will be formally announced at the European governing body's Congress in London tomorrow.
Five clubs will be a maximum however. In the unlikely event of two clubs from the same country winning the Champions League and Europa League and both finishing outside of the domestic qualifying places, then those would still qualify for the Champions League but the side finishing fourth would miss out.
The move is designed to make the Europa League more attractive and to persuade clubs to take the competition more seriously.
The change to allow a maximum of five clubs also answers concerns from the European Clubs' Association who felt that the chances of the Europa League winners taking a place from the domestic league was unacceptably high.
Under the changes the Europa League winner will usually qualify directly for the group phase of the Champions League although under some circumstances they may have to go into the final qualifying round.
The managing director of one ECA club told Press Association Sport: "This is what we wanted - it is unfair for clubs who think they have qualified through their league to be denied because another club has won the Champions League or Europa League."