• Premier League

Rodgers: Liverpool will accept Fair Play place

ESPN staff
May 3, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »

Brendan Rodgers insists Liverpool will accept a place in Europe via the Fair Play league despite suggesting that the club could do without it.

Rodgers' side sit second behind Arsenal in the Premier League's fair play standings ahead of Sunday's Merseyside derby with Everton at Anfield.

UEFA grants a place in the Europa League qualification stages to the three European nations with the best fair play records.

England were fourth in the table when the last standings were published on December 31, but could climb into the top three by the end of the season.

If that happened, a fair play place in the Europa League would almost certainly default to Liverpool, as Arsenal are on course to qualify for the Champions League.

Rodgers has indicated in recent weeks that a season out of Europe would enable his side to focus on improving their Premier League position of seventh.

In addition, the Europa League qualifying rounds would clash with a lucrative pre-season tour of Asia and Australia, planned for July.

But Rodgers insists that comments he made earlier this week about instructing players to pick up yellow and red cards to avoid qualifying for Europe were meant as a joke.

He said: "I was asked the question last week, and what I said was obviously meant as a joke. Of course, it gets reported differently.

"We want to be in European competition however it comes, but we'd prefer to go down the football route."

Liverpool reached the last-32 of this season's Europa League before being eliminated by Zenit St Petersburg on away goals.

Asked if he would accept a European place for next season via the Fair Play league, Rodgers added: "I think, as a football club, you have to. I don't think it's something you turn down, if you get the opportunity to go into European football.

"The journey we had this year in the Europa League was something all the players thoroughly enjoyed.

"It was a great exercise for us. We were bitterly disappointed to go out, and if we get the chance to do it again, then for sure we will."

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