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May 16, 2011

Premier League gets extra Euro spot

The Premier League has been awarded an extra UEFA Europa League place for the winners of the Fair Play table.

• Birmingham get Europe licence

As it stands, Fulham and Tottenham are level in second place behind Chelsea, but if Spurs hold on to fifth place in the Premier League and join Chelsea in qualifying for Europe via the league then the Cottagers could be set to return to the competition they reached the final of in 2010.

If Fulham finish second behind Chelsea in the Fair Play league then the place in the Europa League is guaranteed to be theirs.

England, Norway and Sweden have all been awarded an extra place due to their sides' conduct in UEFA games and one side will join the competition's first qualifying round next season.

A statement on the UEFA website said: ''The three associations allocated a bonus UEFA Europa League place will be entitled to enter the team that won their domestic top-division fair play competitions. If this side have already qualified for a UEFA club competition, the second-placed team in the domestic fair play league may be entered and, should they also have already qualified, the third-placed team and so forth.

''It is even possible for a side that have been relegated to the second division to qualify for the UEFA Europa League, as a result of exemplary conduct during the domestic championship. Only clubs that have obtained a UEFA licence will be able to participate in the UEFA Europa League.''

The data for the Fair Play table is calculated via a number of different catagories - including assessments made by official UEFA delegates on criteria such as positive play, respect for the opposition, respect for the referee, behaviour of the crowd and of team officials, as well as cautions and dismissals - with the latest update available from April 30.

Fulham have picked up five yellow cards in their last two games, which could jeopardise their chances, but with Chelsea, Man Utd and Tottenham around the top, Blackpool could also be in the mix in fifth.

The Tangerines belatedly applied for a UEFA licence to play in European football, though manager Ian Holloway was not enthusiastic about the prospect when made aware of it.

''If this Europe thing does happen then all I'll be thinking about is how short our summer is going to be because the qualifying stages for the Europa League begin at the start of July,'' he said last month.

''The season doesn't end until 22nd May so we will get about a month off, tops. When you consider we didn't really have much of a break last year because of the play-offs that really isn't good.''

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