West Ham and Everton fight to claim extra Europa League spot
West Ham and Everton are locked in a Fair Play battle for a newly-awarded extra place in next season’s Europa League.
England finished second behind the Netherlands in UEFA’s Respect Fair Play ranking, which is based on all matches played at both club and national team level – resulting in an extra entry in the first qualifying round for Europe’s secondary club tournament.
UEFA said in a statement: "Winners Netherlands, second-placed England and third-placed Republic of Ireland will each be granted one additional slot to the first qualifying round of the 2015-16 UEFA Europa League.
"The fair play assessments are made by the official UEFA delegates on criteria such as positive play, respect of the opponent, respect of the referee, behaviour of the crowd and of the team officials, as well as cautions and dismissals."
Liverpool currently lead the Premier League Fair Play table but, because they are set to qualify for European competition anyway, the race for second place in the Fair Play table becomes crucial.
West Ham, who at one stage looked set to challenge for the European places in the Premier League, currently lead third-placed Everton by 281.25 points to 278.75 with both sides having four games still to play.
The sides meet on May 16 at Upton Park in a match that could prove decisive.
Everton will have to be disciplined when they play host to struggling Sunderland at Goodison Park on Saturday. The Black Cats are currently rock-bottom of the Fair Play League on 241.75 points.
Still in with an outside chance of earning a European adventure are Burnley on 278 points, and they may be the first side to find themselves playing Europa League and Championship football simultaneously since Wigan did so in the 2013-2014 season.