Football: League campaign winning over Uefa

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The Football League chairman, David Sheepshanks, yesterday made a final plea to Uefa to give England back a place in Europe for the Coca- Cola Cup winners - and the signs are that the League's campaign may end in victory.

Leicester City were granted a Uefa Cup place after last season's Coca- Cola victory over Middlesbrough, but then European football's governing body removed it for subsequent winners - because the Premier League rejected a request to reduce their number of clubs to 18.

However, Uefa's executive committee meets in Marseilles today to discuss the issue and high on its agenda is a recommendation, strongly backed by the Football Association, for the Coca-Cola Cup winners to continue playing in the Uefa Cup.

It has been suggested that the committee is likely to guarantee the place for a further three years. "The significance to the League and the economic futures of our clubs is crucial, which is why we have campaigned so hard over the last six months," Sheepshanks said.

The West Bromwich Albion chairman, Tony Hale, has launched an attack on Ray Harford after he walked out of The Hawthorns to take charge of Queen's Park Rangers.

Hale claims that Albion have been "used" by the former Blackburn Rovers and Wimbledon manager to rebuild his reputation after the unhappy end to his spell at Ewood Park.

Harford resigned at Rovers in October 1996, when they were languishing at the foot of the Premiership without a win in 10 matches and had been dumped out of the Coca-Cola Cup by Stockport County. But he has enjoyed success again after being given his chance by Albion, helping them avoid relegation last season and then moulding them into promotion contenders during the current campaign.

Hale said: "There are not enough words in the English language to describe how I feel at this moment in time.

"We have been used by Ray Harford. We resurrected his career. He was nowhere when we resurrected him.

"We have helped put him into a position where any club in the country would want to take him as their manager."

Tottenham's new chief coach, Christian Gross, is keen to sign the Swiss international striker Kubilay Turkyilmaz from his old club, Grasshopper Zurich. Birmingham City have enquired about the veteran Rangers striker, Ally McCoist.

The out-of-favour Liverpool midfielder, Michael Thomas, is thinking over an offer to join Coventry City. Liverpool have accepted the Sky Blues' pounds 800,000 bid.

The former Borussia Dortmund coach Ottmar Hitzfeld will take over Bobby Robson's role as director of recruitment at Barcelona, according to reports in Spain yesterday.

Hitzfeld, who became technical director at Dortmund after winning the European Cup last season, has signed a preliminary agreement with Barcelona, according to the reports. Robson has hinted strongly he wants to return to coaching after stepping down as coach at the Spanish club last season and being replaced by the Dutchman, Louis van Gaal.