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Manchester United could reach Champions League by finishing SIXTH due to UEFA rule change

A radical change to UEFA rules could allow Manchester United to qualify for the Champions League even while finishing sixth in the Premier League.

Finishing in the top four could be a bridge too far for United now, who sit 11 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with seven matches remaining.

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United could celebrate their sixth-place finish this season as it could win them the Champions League.Credit: Getty

But that may not even matter in their quest to qualify for next season’s Champions League, with UEFA ready to expand the competition.

The Champions League is set to see major changes next season with more group stages, a big table and more teams included, meaning UEFA is ready to award additional places to specific countries.

With England being one of the two countries with the highest UEFA coefficient, along with Italy, a position as low as fifth could see clubs qualify for Europe’s elite competition.

However, if United struggle to finish even as high as fifth – with Tottenham or Aston Villa expected to benefit – they additionally have to rely on another club to help them.

If West Ham win the Europa League this season, United would qualify for the Champions League, so if they don’t finish fifth in the Premier League, their league position wouldn’t matter.

This would mean another place in Europe’s elite competition would be freed up, which would go to the next highest placed team in the domestic championship.

And if United finish the season sixth, where they currently sit, it would see Erik ten Hag’s men qualify for the Champions League – but under very specific conditions.

In theory, next season could see a club as low as seventh qualify for the competition, but the winners of the Champions League and Europa League would have to be English clubs who finish fifth and sixth.

Moyes could inadvertently help his former team, but West Ham will need to win the Europa League and finish fifth first

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Moyes could inadvertently help his former team, but West Ham will need to win the Europa League and finish fifth firstCredit: Getty
United were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage this season

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United were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage this seasonCredit: Getty

There is virtually no chance of that happening this season, with Manchester City and Arsenal the only clubs left in the competition while both are comfortably in the top four.

However, West Ham boss David Moyes could indirectly give his former side United a huge boost by winning the Europa League – but his side have an uphill battle ahead at Bayer Leverkusen in the quarter-finals.

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Xabi Alonso’s men are currently undefeated this season and are on course to win their first ever Bundesliga title ahead of Bayern Munich despite Harry Kane’s stunning form in his first season at the Allianz Arena.

The terms also depend on West Ham’s fifth place in the Premier League, which seems unlikely at best given they are even further behind than United.

The Hammers are currently seventh in the table and 12 points behind fifth-placed Aston Villa and have a negative goal difference this season (-4) while Unai Emery’s men have a goal difference of plus-17.

United competed in the Champions League this season, but produced one of their worst performances in the competition when exiting the group stage.

The Red Devils have won just once in six group stage matches, including defeats against Bayern Munich, Galatasaray and Copenhagen.

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