A total of 215 teams from all 55 UEFA member associations participate in the 2020–21 UEFA Europa League. The association ranking based on the UEFA country coefficients is used to determine the number of participating teams for each association:
Associations 1–50 each have three teams qualify.
Associations 51–55 each have two teams qualify.
Liechtenstein have one team qualify.
Moreover, 57 teams eliminated from the 2020–21 UEFA Champions League are transferred to the Europa League.
For the 2020–21 UEFA Europa League, the associations are allocated places according to their 2019 UEFA country coefficients, which takes into account their performance in European competitions from 2014–15 to 2018–19. Apart from the allocation based on the country coefficients, associations may have additional teams participating in the Champions League, as noted below:
– Additional teams transferred from the UEFA Champions League
The following is the default access list. Changes will be made to the access list above, if any of the teams that qualify for the Europa League via their domestic competitions also qualify for the Champions League as the Champions League or Europa League title holders, or if there are fewer teams transferred from the Champions League due to changes in the Champions League access list. In any case where a spot in the Europa League is vacated, cup winners of the highest-ranked associations in earlier rounds will be promoted accordingly. As a result of schedule delays to both the 2019–20 and 2020–21 European seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020–21 European season will start before the conclusion of the 2019–20 European season. Therefore, the changes to the access list that should be made based on which teams are the Champions League and Europa League title holders may not be certain after matches of the earlier qualifying rounds have been played and/or their draws have been made. UEFA will ensure that "the respective rounds of the qualifying phase that may have already been drawn or played at the moment the titleholder is determined will not be impacted."
A Europa League place is vacated when a team qualifies for both the Champions League and the Europa League, or qualifies for the Europa League by more than one method. When a place is vacated, it is redistributed within the national association by the following rules:
When the domestic cup winners also qualify for the Champions League, their Europa League place is vacated. As a result, the highest-placed team in the league which have not yet qualified for European competitions qualify for the Europa League, with the Europa League qualifiers which finish above them in the league moved up one "place".
When the domestic cup winners also qualify for the Europa League through league position, their place through the league position is vacated. As a result, the highest-placed team in the league which have not yet qualified for European competitions qualify for the Europa League, with the Europa League qualifiers which finish above them in the league moved up one "place" if possible.
For associations where a Europa League place is reserved for either the League Cup or end-of-season European competition play-offs winners, they always qualify for the Europa League as the "lowest-placed" qualifier. If the League Cup winners have already qualified for European competitions through other methods, this reserved Europa League place is taken by the highest-placed team in the league which have not yet qualified for European competitions.
In early April 2020, UEFA announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, the deadline for entering the tournament had been postponed until further notice. UEFA also sent a letter to all member associations that domestic leagues must be completed in full without ending prematurely in order to qualify for European competitions. After meeting with the 55 UEFA associations on 21 April 2020, UEFA strongly recommended them to finish domestic top league and cup competitions, although in some special cases where it is not possible, UEFA would develop guidelines concerning participation in its club competitions in case of a cancelled league or cup. After the UEFA Executive Committee meeting on 23 April 2020, UEFA announced that if a domestic competition is prematurely terminated for legitimate reasons in accordance with conditions related to public health or economic problems, the national associations concerned are required to select their participating teams for the 2020–21 UEFA club competitions based on sporting merit in the 2019–20 domestic competitions, and UEFA reserves the right to refuse their admission if UEFA deems the termination of the competitions not legitimate, or the selection procedure not objective, transparent and non-discriminatory, or the team is perceived by the public as qualifying unfairly. A suspended domestic competition may also be restarted with a different format from the original one in a manner which would still facilitate qualification on sporting merit. All leagues should communicate to UEFA by 25 May 2020 whether they intend to restart their competitions, but this deadline was later extended. On 17 June 2020, UEFA announced that associations must enter their teams by 3 August 2020. If a cup is abandoned or not completed by the UEFA registration deadline, the Europa League places are distributed by league positions only. The labels in the parentheses show how each team qualified for the place of its starting round:
CW: Cup winners
2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, etc.: League position of the previous season
Abd-: League positions of abandoned season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe as determined by the national association; all teams are subject to approval by UEFA as per the guidelines for entry to European competitions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
The second qualifying round, third qualifying round and play-off round are divided into Champions Path and Main Path. Note: Teams in italics may still qualify for the 2020–21 UEFA Champions League, either through domestic performance, or by winning the 2019–20 UEFA Champions League or the 2019–20 UEFA Europa League. Notes
The schedule of the competition is as follows. The tournament would originally have started in June 2020, but had been delayed to August due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. The new schedule was announced by the UEFA Executive Committee on 17 June 2020. All qualifying matches, including the play-off round, will be played as single leg matches, hosted by one of the teams decided by draw, and will be played behind closed doors. Matches may also be played on Tuesdays or Wednesdays instead of the regular Thursdays due to scheduling conflicts. Video assistant referees will not be introduced for the group phase as planned, but will still be used in the knockout stage. The original schedule of the competition, as planned before the pandemic, was as follows.
In the qualifying rounds and the play-off round, teams are divided into seeded and unseeded teams based on their 2020 UEFA club coefficients, and then drawn into single match ties. Teams from the same association cannot be drawn against each other.
First qualifying round
Second qualifying round
Third qualifying round
The 48 teams are drawn into twelve groups of four, with the restriction that teams from the same association cannot be drawn against each other. For the draw, the teams are seeded into four pots based on their 2019 UEFA club coefficients. In each group, teams play against each other home-and-away in a round-robin format. The group winners and runners-up advance to the round of 32, where they are joined by the eight third-placed teams of the 2020–21 UEFA Champions League group stage. Antwerp, Leicester City and Sivasspor will make their debut appearances in the group stage. ;Pot 1