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Tuesday, November 17, 1998 Published at 03:52 GMT

World: Europe

Manchester United in Belgian exchange

European football officials have expressed misgivings over an agreement reached by Manchester United and the Belgian side Royal Antwerp to exchange players regularly.

European football's governing body, UEFA, said it didn't like the idea, and the English professional footballers' association also expressed disappointment, saying England already had more overseas players than any other country.

Correspondents say Belgium's rules on allocating work permits are more relaxed than those in Britain, and Manchester United could profit from this to sign foreign players who would qualify for European Union citizenship after playing for Antwerp for two years.

Football's world governing body, FIFA, says it will investigate if it believes the scheme breaks current rules banning two clubs from having the same owner.

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