The Premier League’s fifth-placed team are in line to qualify for the Champions League as a result of Manchester City’s ban from Europe.
Assuming City finish in the top four and their ban is not overturned on appeal, their berth will go to the next highest finishers, the Guardian understands.
It increases the possibility of Sheffield United following last season’s promotion from the Championship by playing in the continent’s pre-eminent club competition in 2020-21. Chris Wilder’s side are fifth with 39 points, two points behind Chelsea in fourth and two ahead of sixth-placed Tottenham, who have a game in hand.
City are second, 12 points ahead of Sheffield United with 13 matches left, so it would take a dramatic drop-off in form for Pep Guardiola’s champions to miss out on the top four.
If City’s appeal to the court of arbitration for sport is unsuccessful it is understood the Premier League expects Uefa will not reduce the quota of four English clubs due to compete in the Champions League.
Other clubs including Everton, Manchester United and Wolves would feel their Champions League hopes were enhanced. Ole Gunnar Solskjær is under pressure regarding his position as United manager, so City’s ban, if confirmed, would boost his hopes of keeping his job beyond this season.
La Liga’s president, Javier Tebas , has praised Uefa for taking action against City. Tebas, who has been critical of City’s spending in the past, is happy to see the European governing body use its clout.
“Uefa is finally taking decisive action,” he tweeted. “Enforcing the rules of financial fair play and punishing financial doping is essential for the future of football. For years we have been calling for severe action against Manchester City... we finally have a good example of action and hope to see more. Better late than never.”