Champions League New Rule - Huge Boost For Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea

It's a tight race in EPL as Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are all battling for the top four.But thanks to a Champions League rule change that came into force this season, it doesn't matter if the triumphant clubs finish third or fourth.

With Manchester City and Liverpool clear at the top all four English teams are now be given a direct route into the Champions League group stages.This was after Uefa changed the rules, and scrapped the play-off games for clubs from the bigger leagues.

This also means clubs from Italy, Germany and Spain, as well as the current holders of the Champions League and the Europa League, all benefit. And with that it means Arsenal and Chelsea can get into Europe's elite competition via winning the second tier competition.

However it's still worth busting a gut to finish third rather than fourth. Premier League prize money sees whoever finishes in third get £34.6m - where you 'only' get £32.6m in third. The lack of qualifying rounds is a huge boost for English sides who have seen themselves navigate tricky ties in order to qualify for the tournament over the years.

Despite finishing fourth, the season before last, Liverpool had to overcome German side Hoffenheim in the qualifying rounds before going on all the way to the final. This season they went straight through to the group stage - despite finishing in fourth in 2017/18, 25 points behind Manchester City.

A further two teams from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and Bundesliga will also qualify directly for the Europa League group stages as well as two from France. But sides from lesser leagues will still have to play off. This means that from next season, the top six will all be guaranteed a place in both European competition's group stage and will not have to play a two-legged qualifier.

UEFA also revealed more teams will be directly qualifying for the group stages, with 26 in total compared to 22 from this season. Now, only six teams will gain entry via the qualifying round opposed to 10 this term, but this format will still remain a mini knockout tournament. Their final change sees more clubs trickle down into the Europa League from the group stages, with 10 sides now playing in Europe's second club competition.

Seventeen teams will qualify for the tournament directly through domestic league positions and a further 21 clubs will make it through the normal qualifying route.

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