Man City awarded UEFA Cup spot

May 16, 2008

Manchester City will play in the UEFA Cup next season.

The Premier League have confirmed City have held off the challenge of Fulham to finish sixth in the English Fair Play table but crucially above any team who has not already qualified for Europe.

It means City will enter the competition at the first qualifying round stage in July on what they hope will be the start of a long run to the final in Istanbul next May.

Ironically, City have already confirmed they will not be able to host the first qualifying round tie at Eastlands as the pitch is due to be relaid once a Bon Jovi concert has taken place in June.

With Old Trafford ruled out for obvious reasons and most Lancashire grounds either relaying their surface or deemed unsuitable, Huddersfield's Galpharm Stadium, which usually plays host to rugby league in the summer, has been mentioned as a possible alternative.

Either way, having gained entry into the competition, one year ahead of schedule according to the blueprint of owner Thaksin Shinawatra, City will be fancied to reach the main stages in September.

While the draw for the first qualifying round is not due to be made until June 30, the Blues already know they have been placed in the Northern section.

This puts them in line to face opposition from Estonia, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Lithuania or Luxembourg, plus opposition closer to home in the form of two Northern Irish representatives Glentoran and Cliftonville, two from the Republic in Cork City and current league leaders St Patrick's Athletic, as well as Bangor from Wales.

There is also the possibility of a rematch with Wales' other representatives The New Saints who, as Total Network Solutions, faced City when they last got into the UEFA Cup by the same route in 2003.