Football: Players' union opposes United's Antwerp deal

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The Independent Online
THE Professional Footballers' Association will attempt to block Manchester United's "feeder club" deal with Royal Antwerp. Gordon Taylor, the PFA's chief executive, says he will complain to the European Commission, world governing body Fifa and Uefa.

"I am surprised and disappointed at United," Taylor said. "With their record of bringing through home-grown players I don't see why they need to bring in young prospects from abroad."

The PFA is also at loggerheads with United over Rupert Murdoch's proposed buy-out of Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, United are one of 14 clubs who yesterday granted approval for an expanded European Champions' League of 32 teams at a meeting in Madrid yesterday. United were among the sides who urged Uefa, the European association, to launch the revamped competition from next season, a scenario which could enable a third English Premier League side to take part.

The Australian company which laid the Old Trafford pitch yesterday blamed Manchester's bad weather for its poor condition. Bill Casimaty, managing director of Strathayr, which also laid surfaces at Sydney's Olympic Stadium and Melbourne Cricket Ground, inspected the pitch yesterday and said: "They've had only five days of sunshine since June. "When you get this exceptional combination of no sun and a new pitch, it doesn't allow the roots to knit properly."

The Chelsea striker Tore Andre Flo said yesterday that he will sign a new contract despite having been the primary victim of manager Gianluca Vialli's rotation system. Chelsea want to extend his contract by five years.

Fulham have signed Barry Hayles for pounds 2m from Bristol Rovers. The 26-year- old striker scored 26 goals last season as Rovers reached the Second Division play-offs.

The Aston Villa central defender, Riccardo Scimeca, has handed in a transfer request. The former England Under-21 captain has become frustrated at the lack of first-team opportunities during the current campaign following the emergence of Gareth Barry.

Manchester City's unsettled midfielder Michael Brown is set to join Barnsley for pounds 400,000.