The English Premier League could lose out on one of its Champions League spots if its teams perform badly again this year in Europe. A repeat of last year's performances would see the Premier League drop a place in the world's top club competition.
Although, the fate of the coefficients doesn't solely belong to the English clubs results - Italian sides would also have to deliver another successful season in Europe to see them overtake England and snatch a fourth qualifying spot.
Last year's disappointing display from English clubs in Europe, which saw none of them reach a quarter-final in either the Champions League or the Europa League, weakened the Premier League's coefficient ranking. And with the Italians having a strong season, notably with Juventus reaching the Champions League Final, and increasing their ranking, the extra place is in the balance.
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Spain, Germany and England hold the top three places in the rankings, which gives them four spots. Italy, France and Portugal take up fourth, fifth and sixth places and are given three spots. The ranking is based on countries performances in the Champions League and the Europa League.
The discussion about who will be in third place in the ranking next year has been sparked into life after the English teams having their worst ever start to a Champions League campaign, with Chelsea the only club to pick up any points. Southampton and West Ham's early exit from the Europa League hasn't helped the English cause either.
Here is how the points are awarded:
Two points are given for a win in each competition and one for a draw.
Clubs that reach the knockout stages of either competition are rewarded an extra point for each round.
Four points are rewarded for qualifying for the group stage of the Champions League and getting into the last 16.
Then the total amount of points a country gets is divided by the number of teams they have competing. England currently has 3.625 points and Italy has 2.666.
The relative closeness of the two countries has put the extra place up for grabs, something that seemed almost impossible a couple of years ago and highlights the decline of English performances in Europe over recent years.
Although it will still be very difficult for the Italians to seize a fourth qualifying place from England, the possibility is in their grasp.
Liverpool fans: Could this potential loss of a fourth place mean you'll be supporting Manchester United in this year's Champions League? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!
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