On Sunday, May 28, all will be decided in the world’s richest soccer league, from moneyed European dreams to hard-luck relegation nightmares and beyond.
While Manchester City officially continued its dynasty by locking up its third straight Premier League title (and fifth in the last six years) last weekend, there’s plenty at stake Sunday on the final day of the season in England’s top flight, including two teams still will be relegated to the second-division EFL Championship and the final placement for next year’s lucrative European competitions.
All 20 clubs will play simultaneously at 11:30 a.m. ET across Peacock and various NBC networks, so there will be no scoreboard watching during Matchday 38.
Let’s break down all that’s on the line in the world’s richest domestic soccer league.
A Furious Battle for 7th
The top six are set, with Liverpool and Brighton & Hove Albion clinching the No. 5 and No. 6 positions for UEFA Europa League qualification, joining Man City, Arsenal, Newcastle United, and Manchester United with places in the Champions League next season. It’s the Gunners’ first UCL appearance since the 2016-17 season, Newcastle’s first Champions League participation in 20 years dating back to the 2003-04 campaign, and United’s return after a year absence.
All told, a Champions League spot means tens of millions in extra revenue for clubs and a boatload more global television exposure for players and sponsors alike. For the 2022-23 season, teams earned a reported €15.64 million just for qualifying for the competition’s 32-team group stage. Each group stage win brought teams an additional €2.8 million, draws earned €930,000, and advancing to the Round of 16 netted €9.6 million apiece.
For reference, if Manchester City defeats Inter Milan in this year’s Champions League final on June 10 before a worldwide TV audience that dwarfs that of the Super Bowl, the Sky Blues will have earned an extra €95.3 million. It’s a big freakin deal.
Meanwhile, three teams will fight for seventh place, which would earn them a spot to qualify for the third annual Europa Conference League. The Conference League was founded in 2021 after the Europa League’s group stage was decreased from 48 to 32 teams, aimed at offering teams from across Europe more of an opportunity for top-level, cross-border competition. In 2022-23, teams that reached its group stage earned €2.94 million with the opportunity to earn more than €10 million for winning the whole thing.
Aston Villa (58 points), Tottenham (57 points), and Brentford (56 points) can all take this spot depending on what happens Sunday:
- Aston Villa clinches seventh with a home win against Brighton. They could also qualify if all three teams draw OR all three teams lose.
- Tottenham Hotspur secures seventh with a win at Leeds United AND an Aston Villa draw or loss. Spurs could also qualify with a draw AND losses by both Villa and Brentford.
- Brentford clinches seventh win a home win against Manchester City AND losses or draws by both Aston Villa and Tottenham.
The Relegation Fight
How substantial is the difference between the Premier League and the second-tier EFL Championship? In the 2021-22 season, Norwich earned €100 million for finishing 20th in the Prem and a trip down to the lower division, while Fulham won about €10 million for earning first place in tier two. For Norwich, that included €79 million in equally split TV revenues and €5.6 million in combined commercial income — and that doesn’t include added global sponsorship opportunities teams get for remaining in the Premier League.
It’s what makes Sunday so vital for three teams looking to avoid relegation on the Prem’s final day.
Southampton already clinched relegation and last place, returning the Saints to the Championship for the first time since 2011-12. Everton, Leicester City, and Leeds United are in danger of joining them in the relegation zone, with only one of the aforementioned three teams able to earn safety and remain in the Premier League next season.
Everton, with 33 points and an unsightly -24 goal differential, has not been relegated out of England’s top flight since the 1950-51 season (!). Leicester, with 31 points and a -18 goal differential, rejoined the Premier League starting in 2014-15 and improbably won the league in 2015-16; they haven’t been relegated since 2007-08, when they dropped from the Championship to third-division League One. Leeds, with 31 points and a -27 goal differential, hasn’t been relegated since a trip down to League One following the 2006-07 season and has been in the Prem since 2020-21.
Here’s what each team needs to do to stay in the top flight:
- Everton earns safety with a home win against 15th-place Bournemouth. The Toffees can also stay in the Premier League if each team draws or loses, or if Everton draws, Leicester loses, and Leeds wins but finishes with a worse goal differential than Everton.
- Leicester City stays up with a home win against 14th-place West Ham AND an Everton loss or draw AND a Leeds loss, draw, or win where the Foxes have a better goal differential. Leicester is relegated with a loss or draw.
- Leeds United earns safety with a home win against eighth-place Tottenham AND an Everton loss or draw where Leeds ends with the best goal differential AND a win where Leeds has a better goal differential than Leicester if Leicester also wins.
The top three/four spots may already be decided in the Premier League, but there’s still a ton to play for and watch for on the season’s final Sunday.
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