With the season winding to its close and Liverpool assured of finishing in seventh, any hopes of qualifying for European play next season though traditional means are off the table. Despite occasionally bullish talk from the manager and players over the second half of the season, those hopes have likely been gone for quite some time now.
However, despite the club's qualification chances in the league fading, there was continuing speculation that qualifying through UEFA's fair play standings remained a possibility. Liverpool, after all, were the highest ranked side in the Premier League's fair play standings that hadn't already qualified for European play, and if England could finish in UEFA's top three that would mean qualification.
The Europa League may not have the same cache as the Champions League, but it still helps with player recruitment and aids a club's UEFA ranking. And despite speculation Liverpool might baulk at entering Europe via fair play, Brendan Rodgers insisted that despite a preference for finishing via league standing or cup triumph, the club would "want to be in European competition however it comes."
Now, though, any chance of qualification coming through the fair play standings has gone the way of Liverpool's chances of qualifying through league or cup success. At the season's mid-way mark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland held the top three spots while England lurked hopefully in fourth. At season's end, instead of pushing up England have dropped to ninth.
Sweden, Norway, and Finland, on the other hand, have held firm between December and May. As a result, the three Scandinavian leagues will be given an extra Europa League spot to be awarded to the highest ranked side in their domestic fair play tables that hasn't already qualified for Europe while England misses out.
Liverpool, meanwhile, will be denied European competition for the second time in three years after not missing out once over the previous eleven seasons. The last time the club missed out on Europe ended up being Liverpool's worst season since returning to the top flight in 1962.
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