Football: Honess backs 2000 start for new league

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By Rupert Metcalf

THE MUCH touted European super league, featuring the continent's top clubs, will kick-off in 2000, according to Bayern Munich's general manager, Uli Honess.

The lucrative tournament will replace the current Champions' League and will comprise 32 clubs, Honess, the former West German international forward, said. "In 2000, the Super League will mark the start of a new decade for football," he added. "There will be 32 clubs, 16 of which will be automatic members while the other 16 will have to qualify."

The format described by Honess was identical to the one suggested by te Italian newspaper Tuttosport last week. "The concept is finalised," Honess said. "Clubs and investors meet two or three times a month to talk about it, and I'm convinced that a decision will be announced before the end of the year." Bayern Munich, Honess's club, are one of the leading members of the proposed league.

Polish football came to a virtual standstill at the weekend as clubs demanded the resignation of Marian Dziurowcz, the president of the national football federation (PZPN).

Only one match, a 1-0 home win for GKS Katowice over Ruch Radzionkow, took place. The other seven scheduled fixtures were postponed as the clubs demanded the resignation of Dziurowcz, following the last-minute deal he brokered with the Polish government on Friday night aimed at averting a ban by Fifa, world football's ruling body, on all Polish teams taking part in international competition.

Fifa had threatened the ban if the Polish government did not reinstate sacked PZPN officials by a midnight deadline on Friday. Fourteen minutes before the expiry of the deadline, Poland's sports minister, Jacek Debski, said he had informed the world body that the officials, who had been dismissed after the PZPN had refused to allow the ministry inspect its accounts, had been reinstated.

During the attempts to resolve the four-month row, nine of Poland's 16 First Division teams had demanded the reinstatement of the PZPN board - but threatened to boycott their games unless Dziurowcz resigned. One of the teams, LKS Lodz, are due to face Manchester United in a Champions' League qualifier at Old Trafford on Wednesday. Fifa is to announce its verdict today on the Polish teams' participation in international tournaments.