Fulham are leading Charlton Athletic and Manchester City in the race for a place in the UEFA Cup via the Premier League’s Fair Play League.

Last season Manchester City qualified as one of around a dozen candidates from which three were drawn but, after beating Lokeren in the first round of the UEFA Cup, City were knocked out by Groclin Dyskobolia on the away goals ruling.

At the halfway mark in the current season, Chelsea lead the Fair Play League with Arsenal a close second. Fulham are third, Manchester United fourth, Charlton fifth and City sixth.

At the end of the season, the highest-placed Premiership side who have not already qualified for the Champions League or UEFA Cup will go into a draw with other eligible European sides. The country who top UEFA’s Fair Play League gain automatic entry for their representative in the UEFA Cup.

Fulham and Charlton are in the running for a Champions League or UEFA Cup place through their league position while the FA Cup and Carling Cup winners also enter Europe’s second-tier club competition.

The Fair Play League option is an alternative way of gaining a lucrative European spot but a club’s position is determined not only the number of yellow or red cards they receive.

A Premier League spokesman said: “The Fair Play League is judged on a number of UEFA-set criteria including positive play plus the attitude of spectators, players and coaches towards opponents and officials.”

From a maximum of 10 points, one point is deducted from a club’s score for each yellow card and three for a red.

Positive play carries a maximum of 10 points while respect of opponents, respect of match officials, the behaviour of team officials and behaviour of the crowd can earn a maximum of five points each. So a total of 40 points are up for grabs by each team.