Qualification occurs when a team has achieved a certain target that allows them to participate in a certain competition. The target may be winning a series of matches, winning the group stage in a competition, finishing in a certain position in a league or simply just being in a league. Although usually it is the winners more successful teams that earn qualification, sometimes, teams that do worse qualify for competitions over better teams. For example, only the teams in the Conference Premier, Conference North and Conference South may participate in the English Conference Cup.

In some cases, teams who are more successful do not have to play games to qualify for a competition. For example, teams in the Premier Division and Championship automatically gain a place in the first round of the FA Cup without having to take part in the qualifying rounds.