Manchester City may be looking for new management next season, but it may also find itself playing in Europe as well. UEFA has announced today that England have finished in the top spot of this season’s Fair Play rankings. The rankings are based on evaluations of all games played in UEFA competitions (national or club), with points awarded or deducted for positive play, respect for opponents and referees, behavior of the crowd, and yellow or red cards given. England has held the top spot three times since its founding in 1995.
For finishing on top, England have been automatically awarded a fourth spot to next year’s UEFA Cup competition, joining the winners of the FA Cup, League Cup champions Tottenham, and the 5th place finisher on the final Premier League table. The fourth spot will be awarded to the highest finisher on the Premier League’s own fair play table who has not otherwise qualified for a UEFA competition next season.
That distinction right now is held by Manchester City, who lie fifth on the fair play table after four teams who have already won European places. This would be the second time City has made the UEFA Cup on fair play; they also were best in fair play when England last won an automatic spot in 2003. However, it will only be official once all matches are played. Two teams lie within a tenth of point of City on the current table; Everton and Fulham. Everton, however, only need a last day draw or Aston Villa not winning to get its own UEFA Cup spot, meaning Fulham has the best chance of taking away City’s place. And I have a feeling Fulham has its mind on something other than fair play right now.
It’s not the most glamorous way to get European play, but you can be sure City and Sven will be on their best behavior against Middlesbrough this Sunday.