Football: Uefa holds talks with super league company

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A FOOTBALL revolution loomed closer last night when the company behind plans to set up a European super league said it had met with officials from Uefa, the continent's footballing governing body, for the first time to discuss the idea.

The Milan-based company Media Partners issued a statement saying it had met with Uefa officials yesterday afternoon in Geneva.

"At the meeting, which was requested by Media Partners, the company made a full and detailed presentation regarding its plan for the European Football League," said the statement. "Uefa have agreed to review the EFL plans in consultation with national associations."

It now seems likely that Uefa - which until now has been firmly opposed to a super league - is bowing to pressure for wider consultation on and perhaps radical change of its competitions.

Officials from Uefa were not available for comment last night. It is believed, however, that Uefa has been considering changes to its club competitions ever since it realised how far advanced and how well- received Media Partners' plans have been by the continent's largest clubs.

Media Partners is thought to planning a two-division super league - which it has invited Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool to join - and a knock-out cup competition, which may involve other English clubs. Aston Villa, Newcastle and Chelsea are thought to have been considered for this.

Uefa, meanwhile, confirmed this week that its executive committee - which will meet in Monaco on 29 August - will discuss changes to European tournaments. An expansion of the Champions' League from 24 to 32 teams, and a merging of the Uefa and Cup-Winners' Cups are two options it has been reported to be considering.

Yesterday's developments - which come at the end of a week when Uefa's general secretary, Gerhard Aigner, has reportedly had talks in England with Manchester United and Arsenal about their intentions - are the clearest signs yet that a super league in some form or another is on the way.

Whether Uefa will have a role depends on how they respond to yesterday's meeting, and to what extent Europe's leading clubs feel that their interests can be served in the future by a governing body that has resisted their calls for change for too long.

Meanwhile, Celtic's first team squad last night ended their "work to rule" with immediate effect. The players had adopted a stance of non- cooperation with their club and the media following a dispute over bonus payments in the Champions' League.

The players are angered that their bonuses are not on the same scale as their Old Firm rivals, Rangers. And they also believe there are anomalies in the way the bonus system has been structured by the Celtic management.