• Merit to decide slots for Champions League
Qualification for the next Champions League should be “on sporting merit” and domestic leagues should “explore all possible options” to finish seasons because of the coronavirus crisis, European football’s governing body said on Thursday.
“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,” said a statement released after a meeting of its Executive Committee.
All of Europe’s top five leagues are currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and each of them remains incomplete, with league titles, Champions League spots and relegation positions all still to be decided.
Uefa said it is “preferable that suspended domestic competitions would restart with a different format in a manner which would still facilitate clubs to qualify on sporting merit”.
The football body is keen to see domestic leagues concluded by the start of August at the latest, with that month slated to feature the conclusion of the Champions League.
In what appears to be a concession to individual associations, Uefa acknowledged that leagues could be prematurely cancelled if “there is an existence of an official order prohibiting sports events” by the respective governments.
The Daily Mail reported that leagues that are unable to bring about a return to action will be advised to stage one-off play-off games to determine key positions in the table, which would directly affect English Premier League sides like Chelsea, Manchester United and Sheffield United in the Champions League race.
Another proposal that has been offered up is for leagues to make a decision made on points-per-game ratio, according to The Times, London.
That decision would secure a Champions League spot next season for the Premier League’s current top four of Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester and Chelsea.
Manchester United and Sheffield United would take the Europa League places, while Arsenal and Tottenham would miss out on European football entirely if the current Premier League season is unable to be completed.
Suspended at the last-16 stage, the plan is to complete the Champions League in 26 days with the final taking place in Istanbul on August 29.