City on course for UEFA spot
Manchester City are in pole position to claim a place in next year's UEFA Cup after the Football Association was awarded an extra place in next season's competition.
European football's governing body today revealed that English teams had topped their Fair Play competition, meaning an extra place in the first qualifying round of the 2008-09 UEFA Cup.
The FA has confirmed the berth will be awarded to the highest-ranked side in the Premier League fair play table that has not qualified for Europe by other means.
City currently stand fifth in the fair play table, behind Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool - who are all already guaranteed a place in continental competition.
That means Sven-Goran Eriksson's team, with only a single league game remaining, stand on the brink of an unexpected European spot.
In the 162 European matches featuring English clubs that were watched by UEFA delegates between May 1 last year and April 30, 2008, Premier League sides achieved a Fair Play coefficient of 8.143.
The statistic is determined based on criteria such as positive play, respect of the opponent, respect of the referee, behaviour of the crowd and of the team officials, plus cautions and dismissals.
The seven other associations who achieved a coefficient above eight - Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Spain and France - will be entered into a draw for a further spot which will take place at the City of Manchester Stadium on May 13.
The news that City could be playing in European competition next season leaves Eriksson in an even stronger position amid constant speculation that he is to be forced out of Eastlands this summer.
The Manchester club face a final match at Middlesbrough on Sunday and with the game effectively meaningless for both sides, they appear well placed to maintain or better their position in the domestic fair play league.
Intriguingly, Everton are just a place behind City in sixth, and need to make up only a 0.5-point margin.
With up to 10 points per match awarded purely for yellow and red cards, and four other factors also coming into play - positive play, respect towards the opponent, respect towards the referee and behaviour of officials - that could clearly be achieved during the final round of matches.
Unlike City, however, the Merseyside club face a crucial game this weekend as they attempt to claim the point from Newcastle that would guarantee UEFA Cup football via a fifth-place finish in the Premier League.
Should Everton lose and be overtaken by Aston Villa, who need to win at West Ham to take fifth, the fair play league now offers the hope of salvation.
Latest in Sport
Arturo Vidal to Manchester United: Midfielder set to force through move to Louis van Gaal's Red Devils - reports
Manchester United transfer news: Mats Hummels, Daley Blind and Thomas Vermaelen on radar as Louis van Gaal reveals he still wants to sign defender
Carl Jenkinson: Arsenal fullback joins West Ham on season-long loan
Liverpool transfer news: Brendan Rodgers plans more Anfield signings this summer
Chelsea transfer news: Jose Mourinho confirms Fernando Torres is staying at Stamford Bridge
- 1 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 Now diplomacy has failed, boycotting Israel might be the only way we can protect the people of Gaza
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us