How Newcastle United's Champions League misstep could cost them European football next season

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Newcastle United may have found it easier to secure European qualification had they managed better results in a certain competition earlier this season.

Newcastle United are battling it out for European football this season having struggled to match the pace they set last term. The Magpies are currently in eighth place, battling it out with Brighton and West Ham for a top seven spot, whiley will require a stretch of impressive form to get into the top six conversation between now and May.

Plenty of twists and turns are likely to lie ahead in the race for seventh spot, but Newcastle may have been able to qualify for Europe by finishing eighth had they managed a better Champions League campaign this season - not that the group stage draw did them any favours. Ahead of this season, UEFA confirmed the process for the extra Champions League spots, with four more available heading into next season's expanded competition.

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Two extra spots will go to the qualifying playoffs, while the one extra place will be handed to each of the best two performing countries in Europe from the previous season. This season's European performance will be measured to decide which countries get those extra two spots for next season, and England were viewed as a shoe-in to get an extra spot heading into this campaign, with Manchester City and West Ham United both winning European competitions last season.

But as European football resumes this month, England are not currently in line to get an extra spot, with Italy and Germany currently leading the chase. The system is calculated by taking the best average coefficient score for each country's teams taking part in European competition.

Each win is worth two coefficient points, a draw gets you one, and you get zero for a defeat, while there are also bonus points for reaching different stages. Champions League group stage qualification gets you four, while reaching the Round of 16 gets five and there is a further point for each stage after that. The Europa League issues four points for group winners, two for group runners-up and a further point for each round afterwards. The Conference League hands out two points for group winners, one for runners-up and one point for each of the semi-final and final.

Ultimately, the points each team achieves are added up and then divided by the number of teams each team has competing in Europe that season, creating an average score, making it a more fair competition, given not all countries have the same number of qualification spots available. The top two performing countries will then get an extra spot, and as things stand, Italy lead the way with a score of 15, ahead of Germany, who have 14.071.

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England are just behind on 13.875, and then come Spain (12.937) and France (12.25). There is still time for the order to shift, of course, but England are not currently tracking well, and they are not helped by the fact two teams have already crashed out of European competition altogether in Manchester United and Newcastle That leaves England with two clubs in the Champions League, two in the Europa League and only Aston Villa in the Conference League.

Italy have six teams remaining in European competition, including three in the Champions League, while Germany have the same number and Spain have six but with four teams in the Champions League. Should one of the top four leagues get an extra Champions League spot, it would mean first to fifth gets Champions League football, sixth and seventh reach the Europa League, and eighth would get a Conference League qualifying spot.

That would make things a lot easier for Newcastle as they look to land European football for the second straight season, but they will now have to rely on some of their peers to improve England's ranking or get things done themselves by finishing in seventh or better.

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