Football: Scots on brink of Uefa Cup boost

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SCOTLAND ARE "99.9 per cent certain" to gain an extra place in next season's Uefa Cup after establishing a virtually unassailable lead in Uefa's fair-play competition, a spokesman for European football's ruling body said yesterday.

"The only thing that could now stop Scotland winning the extra place is a technicality," Fritz Ahlstrom said after a meeting of UEFA's executive committee. "Unless we receive some late reports from match delegates which change the points standings, an extra Scottish team will be in next season's competition."

That extra place will go to Kilmarnock, who finished fourth in the Premier League which ended on Sunday. The three above them have already clinched berths in Europe.

Two more teams will also win a place in next season's Uefa Cup but, while Scotland will know their situation on 1 June, the two other countries will have to wait until June 9 to know whether they have been lucky enough to qualify. A draw will be made at half-time in the Euro 2000 qualifier between Switzerland and Italy in Lausanne.

Eight nations - England, Norway, Ukraine, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden and Germany - will go into the hat. Two countries will be drawn and the team that has won the fair-play leagues in those countries will qualify.

This season's European Cup winners will also be invited by Uefa to take part in the new World Club Championship, which will take place from 5 to 14 January next year, probably in Brazil.

Uefa also ratified the newly-revised timetable of matches involving countries from the Balkan region and confirmed that a match between the Republic of Ireland and Yugoslavia scheduled for Dublin on 5 June would definitely go ahead.

Uefa's General Secretary Gerhard Aigner also reported that the governing body had reached its target of pounds 332m sponsorship income for next season's expanded Champions' League.

Aigner said that the target figure had been reached even though negotiations with some television partners had not yet been finalised.

A foundation aimed at fighting violence in football is also being established after a proposal from the German Football Federation.

It will be named the Daniel Nivel Foundation, after the French policeman who was seriously injured during the World Cup last year.

The German Federation is providing 270,000 marks (pounds 170,000) to establish the funding for the foundation, with Uefa and Fifa contributing 200,000 marks each and the French soccer federation contributing 100,000 marks.