CHELSEA and Leicester will go head-to-head this weekend in a crunch FA Cup final at Wembley.
An all-Premier League affair, the match has consequences beyond just winning the world’s oldest cup competition.
With the two teams currently occupying places in the top seven of the table, fans of clubs in the top-half of the Premier League will be thinking about European qualification.
Will European places be changed depending on who wins FA Cup?
At the time of writing, both Chelsea and Leicester are in the Premier League top four and will go into next season’s Champions League if things stay as they are.
A defeat to Arsenal in midweek has given the Blues a wobble, but Thomas Tuchel’s men are expected to qualify for Europe’s premier competition.
The same is true for the Foxes, who strengthened their own CL ambitions with a priceless 2-1 win over Man Utd.
Winning the FA Cup is a route into European football, with the winners rewarded with a spot in next season’s Europa League.
There are just two Europa League spots up for grabs this season, down from the usual three due to the formation of the Uefa Conference League.
Uefa and Prem rules dictate that the Europa League qualifying spot for winning the FA Cup will be passed to the next highest-ranked Premier League side which has NOT qualified for a Uefa competition.
Both Chelsea and Leicester are set to finish in a Europa League qualifying spot or better.
So in a nutshell, provided Chelsea and Leicester remain in the top five – or Tuchel’s side go on to lift the Champions League – fifth and sixth place will head into the EL, while seventh place goes into the Conference League.
What that means is the final few games of the campaign will see jostling for position a little further down the table.
But it also takes the pressure off the Blues and Foxes at Wembley, who are all but assured European football already next term.
The teams that finish in fifth and sixth look set to go into the Europa League – currently, that is West Ham and Liverpool.
And the side that finishes in seventh – currently Tottenham – will go into the new-look Uefa Conference League.
What is the Uefa Conference League?
The competition will be run alongside the Champions League and Europa League in 2021/22.
It is designed to let even more clubs across the continent experience European football.
Whichever English team qualifies will enter at the Play-Off round before a familiar looking Group Stage.
The competition will be held on Thursday nights throughout the season, culminating in a final on May 25, 2022 in Albania.
How can I watch the FA Cup final?
- This season’s FA Cup final is being shown on free-to-air TV in the UK.
- The game at Wembley will kick-off at 5.15pm on Saturday, May 15.
- BBC ONE will show the game in it’s entirety, with streaming available on the BBC iPlayer.
- BT Sport will also be showing the match, if you want a change of commentary team.