Sunday, 9 May 2010
Why should Burnley manager Brian Laws have been incentivised by Europe's governing body to send out his team urging careful challenges in their last game of the Premier League season? Because that's what Laws would've been mindful of as he prepared his Clarets for their last (ever) game in the top flight, at home to Tottenham. A place in Europe via this contorted route was still up for grabs at the time.
It’s not as if they were a particularly clean team anyway. Burnley were just the highest up the Fair Play table who'd not qualified for Europe.
In fact, they finished as low as seventh. Incredibly, the six teams above them didn’t need a back door to Europe like this; they'd already qualified. Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea and Villa among them.
What the Fair Play League shows year after year is that successful teams are usually disciplined enough to play the game the right way, leaving struggling hoofers like Burnley to earn this ridiculous route into the Europa League.
I suppose it might've stopped an exodus of players from Turf Moor following their relegation to the Championship. That and the parachute money, of course. But it’s still a European-style fudge and nonsense.
If UEFA awarded a Europa place to the most improved side in the Premier League, it might help that club to develop further. Stoke or Birmingham would drink to that suggestion.