Liverpool surprisingly find themselves atop the Premier League Fair Play standings according to the latest standings released by the Premier League. There were criticisms about Liverpool, largely due to one Luis Suarez’s antics, but he has reigned himself in, and that has reflected in the standings here.

Cardiff City have collected the least number of cards in the league this season, and as a result, they have collected the most number of points in the yellow and red cards category, with Liverpool a close second while Manchester United is languishing in 16th place. The maximum points allowed in this category are 10 while each yellow card is worth -1 point and each red card is -3 points.

Premier League Fair Play standings

Premier League Fair Play standings

Liverpool, on the other hand, have scored the highest in positive play segment with Arsenal in second while United are 9th in this category behind all the other big teams. This category is designed to encourage attractive play that will increase the enjoyment of spectators and it rewards teams for positive aspects like using attacking tactics, speeding up the game and continuing to push for goals when in a winning position while negative aspects like slowing down the game, time wasting, tactics based on foul play and play-acting (simulation) are penalized.

Tottenham are the top team in the respect to opponents category, with Manchester City (6th), Liverpool (8th), Arsenal (10th) and Chelsea (12th) taking up mid table positions while United are again down in 16th place. This category evaluates whether the players are respecting the Laws of the Game and abiding by the spirit of Fair Play or not. The Fair Play delegate take into consideration the seriousness of the offences punished by cards as well as the offences overlooked by the referee, and any single major incident between players may have a significant bearing on the final score.

Tottenham again top the table in the respect towards referee category, while both Chelsea (17th) and United (19th) have fared very poorly in this category. Surprisingly, Crystal Palace, West Ham, Newcastle and Fulham join Spurs at the top, level on points, just one more than Liverpool, while Arsenal and City are not far behind. This category judges the players based on the respect that they show to the officials – including assistants – at all times. A positive attitude, including the acceptance of doubtful decisions without protest, is rewarded with high marks.

Everton, Liverpool and Arsenal are the top three in the behavior of the team officials category, while both Chelsea and United find themselves in the bottom half of the table. Team officials, including coaches, are expected to develop the sporting, technical and tactical level of their team – and instruct players to behave in accordance with the Fair Play principles. Positive and negative aspects of the team officials’ conduct are assessed – factors such as whether they calm down or provoke angry players or fans, how they accept the decisions of the referee and the co-operation with the media are taken into account.

For the above mentioned categories, the overall assessment of a team is obtained by adding up the points given for the individual categories, dividing this sum by the maximum points score (40) and multiplying it by 10.

In addition, there is one further category assessed by the Fair Play delegate, which, however, does not contribute to the overall standings – behavior of the public. In this category, all teams begin with a score of 5 points and a maximum of a further 5 points can be added for verbal support in acceptable form or covert recognition of outstanding play by the opponents while a maximum of 5 points can be deducted for persistent foul and abusive language, persistent abuse of the officials’ decisions or aggressive and threatening conduct towards opposing fans.

There is generally a positive correlation between the fair play league position of the sides and their actual league position. However, many might find it surprising that United are so close to the bottom, which perhaps highlights how bad their season has been so far.