When Tottenham Hotspur defeated Newcastle United on Wednesday night, the north London club officially clinched Champions League qualification.
Liverpool also look set to retain their spot in the competition, either by a top-four finish or a win in the final.
But for both clubs, their top-four accomplishment will be different than past seasons due to a rule change announced by UEFA in February.
Under new Champions League protocol, outlined in an article in Bleacher Report, the top four teams from the four best European leagues will all receive automatic passage into the group stage.
Crucially, this means that starting in 2018/19, the team who finishes fourth in the Premier League no longer has to play an arduous two-legged play-off in early August to clinch a group stage spot.
This will come as welcome news to supporters of both Tottenham and Liverpool, the two clubs most likely to occupy fourth position once the season draws to a close on Sunday.
Spurs play host to Leicester City knowing they will play in Europe’s premier competition next season, while Liverpool face off against Brighton at Anfield knowing a point will secure them a top-four spot.
Yet, although this reform will be greeted by both fanbases next season, it will be sure to infuriate rueful Liverpool supporters.
The Reds were forced to play a two-legged play-off against Hoffenheim last summer, which brought forward the start of their European season to 15 August.
Sandwiched in between challenging Premier League matches against Watford and Crystal Palace, the qualification matches undoubtedly placed a burden on Liverpool’s early season and stretched their thin resources.
Looking back on the matches against Hoffenheim some nine months later, although Liverpool breezed through 6-3 on aggregate, the games took their toll.
As the Reds are in the midst of an injury crisis before their Champions League final in late May, the extra minutes required by their fourth-placed finish could come back to haunt them.
This season, Liverpool fans will be relieved these play-off matches are a thing of the past.
Nonetheless, supporters will also be cursing their luck given that the changes occurred a year too late, and failed to avert their injury nightmare.