Football: Spurs given tough start in quest to eradicate deficit: Champions begin defence at home to QPR - Palace go for Preece

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The Independent Online
TOTTENHAM Hotspur's hopes of wiping out their 12-point penalty next season sooner rather than later were lowered somewhat when the FA Carling Premiership published the 1994-95 fixtures yesterday, writes Rupert Metcalf.

Spurs, who were also (pending an appeal) banned from the FA Cup and fined pounds 600,000 after being found guilty of making irregular payments, start the campaign at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday 20 August. Four days later they are at home to Everton and then, on 27 August, they entertain the champions, Manchester United. Tottenham's final fixture of what looks like a tough month is at Ipswich on 30 August.

The Old Trafford club's quest for a third successive title starts at home to Queen's Park Rangers and then, on 24 August, they travel to newly promoted Nottingham Forest. Last season's First Division champions, Crystal Palace, can expect a full house at home to Liverpool on the opening day, as can Leicester at home to Newcastle. The play-off winners follow that with away games at Blackburn and Nottingham Forest.

The Endsleigh League starts a week earlier, on Saturday 13 August. Relegated Sheffield United are at home to Watford, one of the former clubs of their manager, Dave Bassett. Millwall's second home game, on 27 August, is against Derby, the opposition in last season's promotion play-off when two pitch invasions led to their appearance this week before a Football Association disciplinary commission.

Four weekends will be without Premiership fixtures to enable Terry Venables, the England coach, to spend time with his squad: 3 September, 12 November, 25 March and 22 April. Switzerland may to be asked to provide the opposition in a Wembley friendly on 7 September, the season's first international date.

Crystal Palace have agreed to pay pounds 350,000 for the Stockport County striker, Andy Preece, who will renew his association with Chris Armstrong. The pair played up front together at Wrexham four seasons ago.

Heart of Midlothian are expected to name Tommy McLean, formerly in charge at Motherwell, as their new manager today. The Edinburgh club dismissed Sandy Clark last week. Another Scottish Premier Division side, Celtic, may face legal action from Lou Macari, who lost his job as the manager at Parkhead last week and is seeking redress.

FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP Opening day fixtures (Saturday 20 August): Arsenal v Manchester City; Chelsea v Norwich City; Coventry City v Wimbledon; Crystal Palace v Liverpool; Everton v Aston Villa; Ipswich Town v Nottingham Forest; Leicester City v Newcastle United; Manchester United v Queen's Park Rangers; Sheffield Wednesday v Tottenham Hotspur; Southampton v Blackburn Rovers; West Ham v Leeds United.

Endsleigh League and Scottish League opening day fixtures,

Coca-Cola Cup draw, Sporting

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