UEFA will determine UCL qualifiers on 'sporting merit,' not coefficients

23.4.2020 15:51

Find out the latest on COVID-19's impact on the sports world and when sports are returning by subscribing to Breaking News push notifications in the Sports and COVID-19 section.

UEFA announced Thursday that qualification for next season's Champions League and the Europa League will be decided on "sporting merit" rather than club coefficients if the coronavirus pandemic prevents the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign.

Europe's football governing body added that all domestic leagues should "explore all possible options" to finish the season if it's deemed safe to play in the coming months.

UEFA urges National Associations and Leagues to explore all possible options to play all top domestic competitions giving access to UEFA club competitions to their natural conclusion. However, UEFA stresses that the health of players, spectators and all those involved in football as well as the public at large must remain the primary concern at this time.

The ideal scenario, should the pandemic situation permit it, is to have the currently suspended domestic competitions completed enabling football clubs to qualify for UEFA club competitions on sporting merit in their original format. Should this outcome not be possible, in particular due to calendar issues, it would be preferable that suspended domestic competitions would restart with a different format in a manner which would still facilitate clubs to qualify on sporting merit.

UEFA also stated it would evaluate or refuse admission if "there is a public perception of unfairness in the qualification of the club."

Using "sporting merit" to determine the competitors for next season's tournament would see teams qualify based on their current standing in their respective leagues. The coefficient method is used for seeding and rankings in European competition and is calculated based on clubs' performances over the last five years.

The suggestion to base next year's European tournament admissions on coefficient was proposed by the Spanish Football Association during Thursday's conference call between all 55 national associations, according to BBC Sport's Simon Stone.

The coefficient route would see a club like Real Sociedad miss out on the Champions League despite their fourth-place standing in La Liga, with sixth-place Atletico Madrid replacing them. A similar scenario in England would result in Manchester United snatching a Champions League spot away from third-place Leicester City.

Two scenarios for the potential completion of the domestic season were also examined during Thursday's meeting. One proposal is to finish campaigns before the Champions League and Europa League are set to resume in August, while the other is to conduct domestic and European competitions concurrently.

A report last week suggested UEFA was working on plans to hold the Champions League final on August 29, with the Europa League final taking place three days prior.

Premier League clubs are scheduled to hold official talks on May 1 after reportedly shifting back and forth on restarting the season when the coronavirus lockdown ends.

Clubs reportedly discussed resuming the season in mid-June with the intention of finishing at the end of July, but a report Wednesday suggested some teams are considering a plan to end the season early.

Football across almost all of Europe was brought to a halt in March as countries around the world implemented strict guidelines in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

more on TheScore.com