Premier League – City awarded UEFA Cup place

Eurosport

Manchester City have been awarded a place in next season’s UEFA Cup through the Fair Play league.

2007-2008 Manchester City Stephen Ireland Elano - 0

England were one of the countries given an extra berth in the competition thanks to their good disciplinary record.

Although City were only fifth in the Premier League Fair Play table, the four sides above them – Tottenham, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal – had already qualified for Europe.

Despite a disastrous final day of the season that saw captain Richard Dunne sent off in an 8-1 humbing at Middlesbrough, and clashes between City fans and police, they maintained their position ahead of Fulham.

“It’s like the dream came true! Our dream to play in Europe has been strong all season,” said manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, who is expected to leave the club this summer.

“At one point we thought we were almost sure to get there, at other points we’ve been almost out of it, but now this news is absolutely fantastic for the Club, for the fans and for everyone.

“It’s a step in the right direction because the target for this Club in the future is to play in the Champions League, and the UEFA Cup is a very good school to learn about European football.

“It’s a confirmation that we are a good team, but also a team that we behave well on the pitch, we are good with the referees and we try to follow the rules as much as possible. It’s like a bonus for us.”

However, City could face an unexpected obstacle getting the City of Manchester Stadium ready for the home leg of their first qualifying round tie on July 17.

The match comes weeks after a Bon Jovi concert, and groundstaff face a race against time to re-lay the turf and prepare the pitch.

With other Premier League grounds also likely not to be ready, the match could be moved to Huddersfield, whose rugby league team play during the summer months.

Meanwhile, City have angrily denied newspaper claims that owner Thaksin Shinawatra has put the entire squad on the transfer list.

Thaksin said: “There is absolutely no truth to this story or any of the allegations. I appreciate the progress and performance of the whole squad, managed by Sven-Goran Eriksson, this season.”

Alex Chick / Eurosport

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