FIFA have now confirmed how clubs can qualify for the expanded Club World Cup in 2025, so let’s look at whether Arsenal will be able to feature.
In an update this week, FIFA explained how clubs will be able to qualify for their 32-team Club World Cup in 2025. The competition is set to be held in the summer from now on, once every four years.
From Europe, 12 teams will qualify. They will be the four Champions League winners from 2020/21 to 2023/24, plus eight further teams based on a club ranking over that four-year period.
If one team wins the Champions League multiple times during those four years, extra spots will go to the teams ranked lower on the list.
However, crucially, only two clubs can qualify from each country, unless more than two clubs from that country win the Champions League.
England already have one guaranteed entrant, Chelsea, who won the 2020/21 Champions League.
If Manchester City or Liverpool win this season’s Champions League, they’ll become the second entrant, and England won’t send any further teams via the club ranking system.
If no English team wins the Champions League this season or next season, it’s very likely one of the English sides will qualify through the club ranking system anyway.
What is the ‘club ranking system’?
At this stage, we don’t know. FIFA write that “further consultation will follow with confederations and stakeholders to define the calculation mechanisms of the club ranking, which will be based on sporting criteria”.
But for Europe, it seems likely they use the UEFA club coefficients, given it’s a ranking that’s already established and agreed upon.
Unfortunately, this is not good news for Arsenal. The Gunners are 23rd in the five-year coefficient, and even if you narrow it down to purely the three relevant seasons we’ve had so far (20/21, 21/22, and 22/23), Mikel Arteta’s side coincidentally remain 23rd.
The main problem is that Arsenal gained zero points last season, as they didn’t participate in European competition.
Based on the coefficient, Manchester City would be the overwhelming favourites to join Chelsea at the Club World Cup.
They have the best score in Europe over the last three seasons, with 82 at the last update. They’re still in the Champions League to rack up more points, and they’ll be in it next season too.
By comparison, Arsenal have 38 points so far across those three seasons.
How many more coefficient points can Arsenal get this season?
In the Europa League, two points are awarded for every win from the group stage onwards (not including the play-off round).
One point is awarded for every draw, four points for winning your group, two for finishing as group runners-up, and one bonus point for each round clubs reach from the round of 16 onwards.
Hence, with five group wins, winning the group, and reaching the round of 16, UEFA have Arsenal on 15 points for this season.
The Gunners will get an extra point for their draw with Sporting last week, bringing them to 16, but this hasn’t been added to the UEFA website yet.
With the second leg of the last-16 still to come, plus a potential quarter-final, semi-final, and final, there are still another 15 points available to Arsenal if they win every game.
That means the Gunners could finish this season on 31 points if they manage a perfect record from now on.
At a minimum, winning the Europa League would mean six points for six draws (with wins on penalties), plus three points in total for progressing to the quarter-final, semi-final, and final.
So if Arsenal win the Europa League, they’d secure a minimum of 25 points for the season, and a maximum of 31. If they lose on Thursday, they’ll end the season with 16.
Either way, it doesn’t look possible to catch Manchester City, who are already 44 points ahead.
So can Arsenal qualify for the 2025 Club World Cup?
Yes. By winning the Champions League next season. That’s really the only possible route.
To even have a chance at catching City’s coefficient score, Arsenal would have to win the Europa League with a perfect record and make the Champions League final with a perfect record, whilst City lost their next eight Champions League games in a row.
Even if FIFA ditch the coefficient and use a different system, it’s hard to imagine a system that would allow Arsenal in over City based on performance in the four relevant seasons.
So that makes things simple. It’s either win it all or bust.