UEFA Champions League Qualifying

UEFA Champions League Qualifying

For much of its history the UEFA Champions League has been contested by clubs winning their domestic leagues in the season prior to the competition. The event started as a knockout tournament contested by clubs from Europe’s biggest leagues.

As the UEFA Champions League expanded, so did the number of clubs participating, and in the 1992/1993 season the rules for qualification were amended to allow teams finishing at the top of their domestic leagues to compete for Europe’s biggest football prize.

The UEFA Coefficients Table

At present the UEFA Champions League is contested by the league champions of every UEFA member association, including tiny member nations like Andorra and San Marino. The only European member country presently excluded from the competition is Liechtenstein.

In UEFA Champions League qualifying the remainder of the teams entering the competition are decided by ranking in their domestic league and the ranking of that nation’s league on the UEFA coefficients table. Depending on a country’s ranking on the table that country is allowed to submit additional teams to the competition.

The countries ranked first, second and third are allowed to submit four teams each, countries ranked fourth to sixth submit three teams each, countries ranked seventh through to 15th submit two teams each and the remaining members of UEFA are restricted to submitting their national league champions.

In effect this means that clubs in the most competitive leagues are rewarded with European berths even if they are only within the top four in the final standings of their domestic leagues. Finally, a berth is reserved for the reigning UEFA Champions League champions if they do not qualify through their domestic leagues.

A country’s position on the UEFA coefficient table is subject to change and is based on the performance of member clubs in European competitions. The latest league standings on the UEFA coefficient table are available here. Standings reflect the number of teams permitted to enter the Champions League in the next season.

Stage of Entry

The final important factor in UEFA Champions League qualifying is the stage of entry into the competition. Clubs qualifying through national associations placed lower on the UEFA coefficients table are entered into the competition during the qualifying rounds. In contrast, clubs from the top leagues automatically qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stages.