26 May 2011
Fulham will be play in the Europa League next season after finishing higher in the Premier League’s Fair Play table than any other Premier League team not already qualified for Europe.
The full and final FP table is below. Chelsea actually top it, followed by Tottenham and Manchester United – but those three latter sides are already qualified for Europe.
Fulham pipped Blackpool for the Fair Play slot largely because of the poor ‘behaviour of officials’ by Blackpool, namely touchline behaviour of their manager and coaching staff. More background on that here (or below, see maths).
In short, however, look at the tiny, tiny margin by which Fulham pipped Blackpool (average 8.32 over average 8.31). Now look at the B/O points of Fulham (196) and Blackpool (175). If Blackpool had behaved as well as Fulham in that respect, they would have pipped Fulham and be in Europe next season (as well as in the Championship).
Look at the total points (Fulham 1264, Blackpool 1263). The margin could not have been smaller. No team had worse B/O than Blackpool. They entertained on the pitch, their players were respectful to refs and opponents, but match delegates consistently marked them down for Ian Holloway’s gabbing at fourth officials.
NB: The maths – Points are awarded for 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. All these points are added together to get the total in the ‘Pts’ column below. That number is essentially what matters. (The fact it is divided by four to give a ‘Score’ and divided again by 38 – the number of games – to give the Average makes no difference to the end of season ranking).