FOOTBALL: Strict rules for foreign signings

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The Independent Online
IT WILL be more difficult from now on for footballers from outside the Eropean Union to play in Britain, following the Government's announcement yesterday of measures to counter the influx of non-nationals.

Players must have appeared in 75 per cent of their countries' competitive games over the previous two years, and the Department for Employment and Education will not look favourably on attempts to bring in players from the smaller footballing nations.

In addition, work permits will be valid for the length of a player's contract with the club, and Fifa ranking of the player's national side over the past two years will be taken into account.

Uefa, European football's governing body, announced yesterday that the winner of the coming season's Champions' Cup will be guaranteed pounds 4m and the runners-up pounds 2.4m. In all, three-quarters of the pounds 331m received in sponsorship and television deals will be shared among the 32 teams; the rest will go on administration. Also clubs will require all-seater stadiums to participate in Champions' League qualifiers from the start of the 2000- 01 season.

Manchester United have a new fixture crisis following Uefa's decision to rearrange the Ireland v Yugoslavia European Championship qualifier for 1 September. Roy Keane and Denis Irwin will be needed for the game, 24 hours after United are scheduled to play Newcastle in a rearranged Premiership fixture. Both may also be withdrawn by Republic's coach, Mick McCarthy, from the Super Cup tie against Lazio in Monaco the previous Friday.

The match, originally scheduled for 5 June in Dublin, was postponed when Yugolsav players were refused Irish visas during the Kosovo conflict. Uefa also said the SFr50,000 (pounds 20,000) fine imposed on the local association would be split between four Irish charities involved in Kosovo aid efforts.

Stan Collymore has reported back for pre-season training with his Aston Villa future still in doubt. The England striker was absent for the final six weeks of last season as he underwent stress counselling.

Milan have signed the 22-year-old Ukrainian international striker Andriy Shevchenko from Dynamo Kiev for pounds 15.7m on a five-year contract.

Nicolas Anelka's expected move to Lazio will not be completed before next week. The Rome club has still to hear from Arsenal and their chairman, Sergio Cragnotti, is spending the weekend on his boat rather than wait for Highbury's agreement.