English clubs pay for Intertoto fiasco

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The Independent Online

The fiasco of persuading unwilling clubs to compete in the Intertoto Cup last season has cost England a fourth Uefa Cup place next season.

England earned an extra place for this season because of domestic clubs' good behaviour in European play, and the country's teams again led the Fair Play rankings, ahead of Sweden, Russia and Finland in 1994-95. That entitled them to the extra berth again, but yesterday Uefa took away that benefit because of the attitude displayed by Totenham and Wimbledon towards the competition, which proved unpopular in England even though it provided a route into last season's Uefa Cup.

Neither Tottenham nor Wimbledon could use their home ground and borrowed youngsters from other clubs to replace established players after originally declining to compete.

Uefa's president, Lennart Johansson, said an extra Uefa Cup place was not awarded, "due to the conduct of Tottenham and Wimbledon in last season's Intertoto Cup."

Graham Kelly, the Association's chief executive, said: "We realised the situation was not best handled in England and we apologised profusely to Uefa several times. Things were complicated when the date of the draw was brought forward. Clubs thought they had options. They made the best of a bad job in their view but it was not shared by Uefa's executive committee."