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Saturday, August 29, 1998 Published at 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK


Sport: Football

Premier league expulsion threat

Chelsea's presence in Monaco helps remind Uefa of fans' role

English football's Premier League has warned it may expel any clubs who sign up for a breakaway European super-league.


BBC Sports Correspondent Paul Newman: "Uefa may yet be taken over by events"
Sixteen of Europe's top clubs have been approached to set up the rebel league.

The European governing body, Uefa, is meeting in Monaco to discuss how to head off the challenge.


[ image: Peter Lever:
Peter Lever: "Great determination"
Speaking after being appointed to a continent-wide task force to look into the matter, Peter Lever, Chief Executive of the Premier League gave a clear warning to potential English rebels.

"There's a great determination amongst the clubs in the Premier League that anyone who wants to go their own way will have to face the consequences.

"It may well mean that they will find themselves not inside the league," he told BBC News.

Clubs would then have to weigh up the £20m a year on offer from the super-league, with the lucrative TV money from the Premier League.

Uefa rejects co-operation

The league is due to start in 2000, and despite the threats, there is a fear that events may overtake Uefa.

Manchester United have already warned the game's chiefs to take the league seriously, with the English club suggesting Uefa could be involved in a relationship similar to that of the FA and the Premier League in England.


[ image: Lennart Johansson:
Lennart Johansson: "I'm not nervous"
Uefa President Lennart Johansson rejected this, and said the governing body would maintain control: "I'm not nervous,. My colleagues are not nervous.

"There are other persons very nervous, who have only commercial interests and not sporting criteria."

He did give the clubs some encouragement, admitting that Uefa is considering giving out wild cards for the Champions' League.

That could pacify former winners Borussia Dortmund and AC Milan, who have both failed to qualify for European competition this season.

But any such plan will dismay some fans as it dissolves the idea of sporting criteria deciding who qualifies.

Uefa has promised to listen to supporters groups, one of whom has already spoken out against the super-league idea.

Mr Johansson also promised a change in the Champions League format next season to increase the number of games, and the income generated.

Task force

Uefa's executive approved a task force to consider change.

From the UK, super-league candidates Liverpool join Mr Lever on the body, which will work fast.

A verdict is due by the next Uefa meeting in Lisbon on 6-7 October.

Proposals under consideration are thought to include:

  • A Champions' League where the top five European nations of England, Italy, Spain, Germany and France will each have four teams

  • A wild-card entry system which allows clubs with an established record in the competition, such as AC Milan, to enter even if in that particular year they do not qualify

  • A much larger qualifying competition which is meant to eliminate the winners of national leagues from the unfashionable Eastern Europe and other minor countries - this could mean an expanded Champions' League of 32 teams, with eight groups of four teams, as in the World Cup

  • A merger of the Uefa Cup and Cup-Winners' Cup competitions to cater for many of the champions of national leagues who will not qualify for the full Champions' League.

  • A better shareout of the money from the Champions' League. Last season it brought in an estimated £155m, but only 55% of this went to the existing 24 clubs.





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