The weird world of UEFA’s Fair Play League

May 12, 2008

Manchester City fans have always had a good line in terrace songs and their latest offering is “Hey Thaksin, Leave Our Sven Alone” to the tune of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”.      

They may still be singing about Eriksson in Europe next season, if Richard Dunne’s final day red card in the 8-1 humiliation at Middlesbrough doesn’t scupper an unlikely route into the UEFA Cup via the wacky Fair Play League.  

City are a less than angelic fifth in the Premier League’s Fair Play stats but the teams above them will all be in Europe anyway. To make matters worse, the system is not even as simple as red and yellow cards or fouls committed. At least that criteria would be black and white.

Instead, Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers, who finished higher than City, have missed out on the UEFA Cup because they did not tick enough boxes for things like “respect towards opponents” and “positive play”.

City’s hapless defenders would receive glowing references from Middlesbrough’s forwards on the first point.      

Positive play? Well, they definitely can’t be accused of playing for a 0-0….so more credit there then.      

Maybe football should scrap the three points for a win system and just have two teams of show ponies prancing about the pitch while a panel of judges marks them for artistic merit and choreography…It would make more sense than the Fair Play charts.

Martyn Herman, London


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Just wondering if you could include my blog in your list of Links. It is one of the only blogs that provides information, articles and news about the Major League Soccer in Spanish! Please check it out.

Jose M. Burgos

Posted by MLS en espanol | Report as abusive

I will pass that on to the blog editors…thanks for your comment

Posted by martyn herman | Report as abusive

great ending point

Posted by clement | Report as abusive

i cant stand manchester city. who do they think they are?

Posted by int86 | Report as abusive

It’ll be typical of City to throw the UEFA Cup spot away after such a good (and fair) season. I even think Thaksin is awaiting the result before confirming Sven’s sacking. Despite agreeing with Martyn, that the fair play league is a wacky creation, I will be over the blue moon if City claim that spot…only to then get knocked out by a bunch of fisherman from Norway like 2003. Oh well, in the back door and then straight back out.

In response to int86, Manchester City think they’re Manchester City, nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by Bingo | Report as abusive

As a Fulham fan I have enough to cheer me after Sunday. To read that Richard Dunne’s sending off might get us into Europe is icing on the cake – or utterly bizarre. Well both actually.

Posted by Anthony | Report as abusive

I take it, by your article that you don’t really like Manchester City?
I am sure most city fans would agree with me that we would rather qualify for the UEFA cup via the league table than via the back door. Our league position (9th)demonstrates that we do not deserve to enter this competition on merit. I agree that the fair play system is bizarre. That doesn’t mean to say that we wouldn’t accept it if it was offered.
Incidentally, Fulham finished a lot lower in the league than Man City this year, they are also less “angelic” than City. I guess you’d be happy with that though?

I wonder why int86 “can’t stand” Manchester City. Perhaps he’s a Man U fan? wouldn’t surprise me. Ever been to Manchester??

Posted by Don Kiddick | Report as abusive

[…] their bitter and illustrious rivals United for the first time in 38 years and, albeit through the back door of the Fair Play League, are set to qualify for the UEFA […]

Posted by The Blue Oxo Cube « On Saturday Morning we will Rule the World | Report as abusive

I am a city fan and keen to know whether we have qualified or not, when/how do we find out?

Posted by David Fitzmaurice | Report as abusive

The final fair play table gets released tomorrow (Friday), so you’ll find out then.

Good luck, if for no reason other than not wanting Fulham to do it.

Posted by Kate | Report as abusive

Oh, and I think you’re wrong, I think criteria like “respect towards opponents” and “fans behaviour” are completely right to have – it all makes up the team and their reputation, and it shows what the Fair Play League is for: using football to demonstrate good citizenship.

Posted by Kate | Report as abusive

Who has qualified for earope via the fair play leage, Fulham or Man City?

Posted by Jack Brammall | Report as abusive

If Fulam qualify I cannot think of a finer tribute to the memory of the late great Jim Langley – the finest gentleman that I have ever seen play top league football.

Posted by David Clayton | Report as abusive

Regarding my earlier submission today – I have been a fan for 51 years and I cannot spell Fulham !
I know you will forgive me Jimmy.

Posted by David Clayton | Report as abusive

Where does the final fair play table gets released ? Please let me know loll

Posted by uk online bingo | Report as abusive

It will get releiased at the end of the season but you can follow clubs’ fairplay progress on the

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Hey mark, i appreciate the link, been looking for a place to track the fair play releases..

Posted by charliedavidson | Report as abusive