Manchester City FC have won a place in the UEFA Cup after England topped the UEFA Fair Play rankings.
City, who have not played in Europe since 1979, were put forward by the Football Association (FA) as its candidates for the UEFA Fair Play scheme last month. Kevin Keegan's team finished fifth in the FA's rankings behind Manchester United FC, Newcastle United FC, Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC, but all four had already qualified for either the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Cup.
Two more places
England led the UEFA rankings with 8.202 points but the nine other associations finishing with a coefficient above eight points will get another chance to win one of two more Fair Play places in a special draw. They were Sweden, Finland, France, Denmark, Russia, Poland, Switzerland, Norway and Republic of Ireland.
So far, the following clubs have been confirmed as the Fair Play representatives of these associations: FF Jaro (Finland), FC Shinnik Yaroslav (Russia), FC Aarau (Switzerland), Viking FK (Norway) and Cork City FC (Republic of Ireland). The draw will be made before the UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifier between Switzerland and Russia in Fribourg on Friday 6 June.
To qualify for the Fair Play rankings in the first place, an association must have been involved in at least 27 national team and European club matches. UEFA has been assessing each member association's ranking, based on the fair play performances of their international and club teams, since 28 May last year up to 31 May 2003.
How it works
UEFA identifies six criteria for the evaluation of the fair play score - red and yellow cards, positive play, respect of the opponent, respect of the referee, behaviour of team officials, and behaviour of the crowd. A system of points is then given for each of these, and an association coefficient is calculated on the basis of the number of matches played by teams from the association.
While UEFA runs its own table, each association has its own Fair Play table for its respective clubs. The three successful nations are then invited to give their extra UEFA Cup place to the highest-placed team in their domestic Fair Play rankings who have not already qualified for European competition in 2003/04.
Last year's trio
The 2002/03 UEFA Cup saw extra places given to teams from Norway, England and the Czech Republic. Norway topped the Fair Play table meaning SK Brann were granted an automatic place, while Ipswich Town FC and Sigma SK Olomouc profited from the draw. As in Ipswich's case, it is possible for a team to be relegated from their top flight and still take their place in the UEFA Cup.