Football: Norwich out of TV title showdown

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The Independent Online
THE POWERS that be at the Premier League have unofficially declared the Premier title run-in a two-horse race by announcing that the games involving Manchester United and Aston Villa on the season's final weekend have been moved to the Sunday for the benefit of television. Norwich's game at Middlesbrough remains on the Saturday.

Villa's last game is at Queen's Park Rangers, while United visit Wimbledon, both fixtures having been put back 24 hours to Sunday 9 May. Both will kick off at 2pm. Both the Sunday matches will be screened live by BSkyB. Television has also dictated that the crucial Barclays League First Division game between the leaders Newcastle and the play-off contenders, Leicester City, will also be switched to the Sunday for showing on ITV. That is unlikely to meet with the approval of Leicester's rivals, but there is no room for appeal by the likes of Portsmouth and Millwall. 'The contract dictates that ITV can select four games after the transfer deadline for semi-network coverage and they have chosen Newcastle's last match,' a League spokesman said.

Nottingham Forest's struggle for Premier League survival, an arduous enough task even before Stuart Pearce's groin complicated matters, encountered more problems yesterday. A hamstring strain has ruled winger Ian Woan out of tonight's visit by Blackburn, while Gary Crosby is doubtful with an ankle injury.

The most painful blow had been confirmed earlier in the day when City Ground officials announced that Pearce, the club captain, would definitely miss both the remainder of the season and England's next three World Cup games against the Netherlands, Poland and Norway.

Reg Burr, the Millwall chairman, has reassured supporters that the club will start next season in their new pounds 16m stadium at Senegal Fields, this despite a demand that the shareholders stump up a further pounds 3.2m in cash to fund the construction.

The Italian authorities have confirmed that Roma's Argentinian striker, Claudio Caniggia, has tested positive for cocaine and faces a ban of up to two years.

Guy Whittingham lifted Portsmouth into second place in the First Division - and raised his season's goal tally to 43 - with a hat-trick in last night's 4-0 home win over Peterborough.

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