Explained: How Aston Villa can qualify for Champions League by finishing fifth
Source: Birminghammail

Aston Villa could benefit from a historic change during the 2023/24 campaign as five teams could qualify for the Champions League in the top flight of English football.

The competition will adopt a 'Swiss League' style from the 2024/25 season onwards, with 36 teams competing for the title and an additional two places up for grabs to the two countries that perform best across UEFA's competitions. Therefore opening the door for clubs like Villa, who may not finish within the usual four spots that are allocated Champions League spots within the Premier League.

For this situation to unfold, English clubs will have to provide one of the top two performances across the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League. Essentially, the usual top four from the Premier League will still qualify for the UCL group stages, but the two leagues with the best coefficient in the 2023/24 season will now be awarded an extra spot in the competition.

If England are in the top two, fifth place will be awarded a spot. Individual club performance is not relevant, with the spot being allocated to whoever is fifth within the Premier League. A statement from the Premier League regarding the matter said: "We will likely only know when that fifth spot will come into play for the UCL towards the end of the season, when the geographical spread of the participating clubs in the latter stages UEFA competitions is known."

Five teams from England have qualified for the Champions League on one other occasion before, after Liverpool lifted the trophy in 2005 but also finished in fifth behind their rivals Everton in fourth. The changes could see a maximum of seven clubs qualify due to the new roles, if the winners of both the Champions League and Europa League are both from the Premier League and finish outside the top five.

It has also been confirmed that in five of the last six seasons, an additional spot would've been allocated to an English team when accounting for the new rules in place. The countries that would have been allocated the additional two places are as follows:

2017/18: England and Spain2018/19: England and Spain2019/20: Spain and Germany2020/21: England and Spain2021/22: England and the Netherlands2022/23: England and Italy