Football: Barnwell's peace call

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The Independent Online
Calls for peace talks to cool the dispute between Premiership managers over an extension to the season were made yesterday by the League Managers' Association.

Manchester United's Alex Ferguson wants the season extended past the 12 May deadline, but has been opposed by his counterparts, Arsenal's Arsene Wenger and Roy Evans of Liverpool. "Come the end of this season, all interested parties must get around the table," the LMA chief executive, John Barnwell, said. "Maybe it has got to the stage that the governing bodies take things out of people's hands and demand that we come down to an 18-team Premiership."

That issue is of great concern to the Football League, which is fighting the loss from next season of a Uefa Cup place for the Coca-Cola Cup winners. Uefa, European football's governing body, announced three years ago that unless a nation's top division had 18 clubs or fewer, the winners of the secondary cup competition would lose their automatic right of entry to the Uefa Cup. "We're not going to take this lying down," David Sheepshanks, the chairman of the Football League, said.

Liverpool have emerged as the favourites to sign Israel's captain, Tal Banin, from Hapoel Haifa. The 27-year-old goal-scoring midfielder is out of contract in the summer and could move on a free transfer.

Macclesfield, Kidderminster and Stevenage, the only three serious contenders for the GM Vauxhall Conference title, have all met the criteria for entry into the Football League. For the first time since Halifax went down in 1993, the League's bottom club will be relegated.

Kilmarnock have confirmed Bobby Williamson as their new manager. He has been in caretaker charge at Rugby Park for three months.

Five spectators were crushed to death when stadium officials celebrating Nigeria's 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory over Guinea on Sunday failed to open gates for the crowd to leave. Only two of the five gates of the National Stadium in Lagos were opened as over 40,000 people tried to get out.