Premier League top four WILL qualify automatically into Champions League group stages from next season

Uefa confirm several changes for its showpiece competition to be implemented from the start of 2018/19 season

UEFA has confirmed the top four in the Premier League will automatically qualify for the Champions League group stages.

The changes will be introduced for the start of next season, with the top four sides in Spain, Italy and Germany also skipping the qualifying rounds.

Uefa have confirmed a number of changes to the Champions League

The fourth-placed teams in these leagues previously had to battle through a two-legged qualifier to gain access to the groups.

But Uefa officially announced the changes, along with ones to the Europa League, today.

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It will see 26 European teams, compared to the 22 of the old format, qualify directly to the Champions League group stages based on their domestic performance.

This figure includes the winners of the Champions League and Europa League the season before – that means six qualifying positions up for grabs.

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The Prem’s top four and those from Spain, Italy and Germany will all automatically qualify for the group stages

The Champions League will also have staggered kick-off times similar to the Europa League

That would mean, as it currently stands, Manchester City and United would be joined by Liverpool and Tottenham in claiming the four places.

Uefa have also announced staggered kick-off times for its premier European competition.


Matches will now take place at 5.55pm and 8pm – similar to the Europa League.

The governing body have also introduced preliminary rounds to run before the first qualifying phase begin.

They will now overlap with the World Cup by starting at the end of June as the Champions League will operate its preliminaries as a mini knockout tournament.

Four clubs enter at this stage and contest a semi-final for a place in the first qualifying round.


  • 26 teams now gain direct entry into group stages, including competition winners, rather than the previous 22
  • Instead of 10, only six qualifying spots are now up for grabs in the group stages
  • There is now a new preliminary round that has been added to the qualifying phase
  • The tournament will now have staggered match times, similar to those currently in place in the Europa League

But one thing that won’t be brought into the mix is VAR.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “Fans see the VAR screen all the time but nobody knows how it works.

“We will not use it in the Champions League next season. For me, it might be a good project but we shouldn’t rush it.

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