Football: English entry up by one

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ENGLAND is to be granted an extra place in next season's Uefa Cup as a reward for fair play but could have it taken away three seasons later unless the Premiership reduces its membership to 18 clubs.

Uefa has been so impressed with the behaviour of England's international team and club sides in Europe that it has invited a fourth English club into the tournament.

Uefa issued a statement after a meeting in Zurich saying: 'The first Uefa Fair Play Ranking list shows that club and national teams from the associations of England, Norway and Luxembourg have distinguished themselves on the field with their sportsmanlike conduct. Consequently the three associations may each enter an additional club in the 1995-96 Uefa Cup.'

But there is a sting in the tail from Uefa. Its president, Lennart Johansson, has been campaigning for a maximum 18 clubs in the premier division of each country.

Now Uefa has decided that after 1997-98, League Cup winners may only be nominated for Uefa Cup inclusion through that tournament if the national association concerned has limited its domestic championship to a maximum 34 matches.

The FA Carling Premiership will reduce to 20 clubs at the end of this season but there are no plans for a further reduction. In which case the League Cup, already losing its appeal to the likes of Manchester United, would become seriously devalued. That in turn may enable the much-debated European Super League to become a reality.