16 May 2011
An English team will play in the Europa League next season through Uefa’s Fair Play scheme, with Fulham in pole position because Blackpool’s record has been marred by Ian Holloway’s constant chatter at the fourth official during matches.
Uefa have awarded three places into the qualifying rounds of the 2011-12 Europa League (starting 30 June) to the three nations with the fairest play this season: Norway, England and Sweden. See press release below.
The English team – not otherwise qualified for Europe – who finish highest in the Premier League’s Fair Play table (linked here) will get the English berth.
A Premier League match delegate at each game rates fair play by five criteria: red and yellow cards (RY); positive play (PP) with sportsmanship rewarded and cynicism marked down; respect towards opponents (RO); respect towards the referee (RR); and the behaviour of club officials (BO), namely the manager and coaches during play.
These numbers are filed to Premier League HQ in confidential reports. The latest figures show Blackpool’s PP rating is better than most and their respect towards opponents and referees is also up there with the best. But their BO is bad – no other club have been rated lower. And sources say that’s down to Holloway’s constant chatter during matches.
If Blackpool were rated higher on BO, they’d quite probably be in Europe next season, although Holloway has already made clear he thinks June is an early start and hasn’t exactly sounded enthusiastic about the Europa League. Hence Fulham will get the spot, probably, although Tottenham are also in contention if they miss qualification by missing fifth place.