Champions League and relegation on ‘sporting merit’ if Premier League cancelled

Qualification for next season's Champions League and Europa League could be decided on "sporting merit" if domestic leagues do not finish amid the coronavirus outbreak.

UEFA are understood to be close to a decision that means league positions determined on a points-per-game basis.

As such, if the Premier League is forced to end the season without playing its remaining fixtures, and uses UEFA's system then Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester and Chelsea will qualify for the Champions League.

The quartet all currently sit in the top four.

Manchester United and Sheffield United would take the automatic Europa League spots.

A points-per-game verdict would be welcome news at Bramall Lane, with the Blades able to secure European football in their first season since being promoted back to the top flight.

That's despite them currently sitting behind Wolverhampton Wanderers on goal difference in the table.

But they have played one game fewer and would overtake the Black Country club on points-per-game.

Wolves, who remain in this season's Europa League last 16, would enter the competition at the second qualifying round in 2020-21 if this campaign's FA Cup is cancelled.

Thus, north London duo Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur would face the nightmare scenario of both missing out on any European football.

And Jose Mourinho's man would also fall below their bitter rivals in the final table.

Spurs currently lead Arsenal by one point, but the Gunners have played one game fewer and would thus finish above them for the first time in four years.

Aside from these changes in the top half of the table, the current Premier League standings would remain unaltered if worked out on points-per-game and Norwich City, Aston Villa and Bournemouth would remain in the relegation spots.

However, the top of the table could be drastically changed further if Manchester City's European ban is upheld. Such a verdict would propel Manchester United to the Champions League spots, while Wolves would join Sheffield United in automatic qualification for the Europa League.

Arsenal would then enter the qualifying round for the Europa League after edging Spurs to eighth place.

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