Football: Coaches tackle calendar

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LEADING EUROPEAN football coaches have suggested arranging two internationals in a week to reduce the disruption to clubs caused by players being called away for spread-out fixtures.

The idea was one of many discussed by 10 of Europe's leading coaches at their inaugural forum with European football's governing body, Uefa, in Geneva yesterday.

Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager of Manchester United, led a discussion about the increasingly congested football calendar and a wide range of other issues affecting leading clubs. Barcelona's Louis van Gaal, Real Madrid's John Toshack and Marcello Lippi of Internazionale were also there.

One idea was to schedule internationals on Wednesday or Thursday and then again on Saturday or Sunday, so reducing the time a player would be lost to his club. Other points of discussion included the introduction of additional officials, player development and yellow cards.

Andy Roxburgh, the former Scotland coach who is now Uefa's technical director, said there was some interest in adding two more linesmen or goal judges. "One option discussed was the idea of having linesmen to the side of the goals," he explained. "They would be concerned mainly with the penalty-box areas, where often decisions are decisive. They felt the referee needs all the help we can give them."

Uefa said it would examine the points brought forward at the meeting and then ask the group back with a narrower, more focused agenda.