Premier League news

Fulham on course for Europa return

April 12, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet news

Fulham look set to return to European football next season, sitting in pole position to win a place in the Europa League via Fair Play.

Fulham lost in the final 11 months ago
GettyImages / ChristofKoepselFulham return to Europa League action 13 months after losing the 2010 final to Atletico Madrid

UEFA gives an extra European place to the top three ranked nations based on a number of Fair Play criteria. England is currently second to Norway. The top placed team from those nations, based upon the same ranking, is then put forward.

At present it is Chelsea who top the table, but as they will almost certainly qualify for Europe via their league position the place will drop down to the next club, which happens to be the Fulham.

Positive play, respect for the opposition and the referee, crowd behaviour and of team officials, as well as a club's disciplinary record, is taken into account.

Fulham reached the Europa League final in 2010, losing to Atletico Madrid in extra-time in Hamburg. They have spent all of this season in the bottom half of the table, but Mark Hughes' side look set for another European trip.

But qualification through the Fair Play league can be a poisoned chalice, as teams must start in the First Qualifying Round, which starts at the beginning of July - just six weeks after the end of the Premier League season.