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Last Updated: Monday, 2 June, 2003, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
Man City net Uefa Cup place
Manchester City manager Kevin Keegan
Keegan will lead City into Europe for the first time since 1979
Manchester City's disciplinary record has earned them a place in Europe for the first time in 24 years.

City finished fifth in the Premiership Fair Play table behind Manchester United, Newcastle, Chelsea and Liverpool.

But the sides above them had already qualified for Europe, which meant Kevin Keegan's men would take part in the Uefa Cup providing the Premiership finished top of Uefa's Fair Play league.

That was confirmed after other European leagues picked up enough disciplinary points at the weekend to ensure they finished below England.

Man City, who finished ninth in the Premiership, will therefore begin life at the City of Manchester Stadium with their first European campaign since 1979.

It's probably not the best way to get there but we'll take it anyway
Man City chairman John Wardle

"It's tremendous, not just for the players but especially for the fans," Keegan told the club's website.

"I have already spoken to a number of fans and they are extremely excited at the prospect of watching us in Europe.

"This certainly makes last season a great Premiership return to finish in the top half and to gain a place in Europe.

"I would have taken that at the start of last season."

City chairman John Wardle was equally delighted at the club's return to Europe.

"It's a long time since Manchester City were in Europe and it's great to be back," he told BBC GMR.

"It's probably not the best way to get there but we'll take it anyway. We're all looking foward to it at the club".

Keegan has already stated his dislike for the Fair Play qualifying system, which awards points based on criteria such as positive play, respect for opponents and the referee, plus behaviour of team officials and crowds.

Everton, who finished seventh in the Premiership, will be the only club from the top nine not playing in Europe next season.

The draw for the Uefa Cup qualifying round will take place on 20 June.

The first leg of the tie is pencilled in for 14 August, with the return two weeks later.

So far Sporting Lisbon and Steaua Bucharest are the highest-profile teams to be listed in the qualifying draw.

But England's Uefa coefficient will probably mean a trip to Eastern Europe or one of the lower-ranked countries in western Europe such as Northern Ireland or Sweden.

Sweden, Finland, France, Denmark, Russia, Poland, Switzerland, Norway and Ireland will take part in a Fair Play draw on 6 June when two clubs will be chosen to complete the qualifying competition.




MANCHESTER CITY


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