Football: Uefa opt for 32-team league

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The Independent Online
UEFA WILL expand the European Champions' League from next season to 32 teams, an increase of eight, Lennart Johansson, the president of European football's governing body, said yesterday.

Johansson also confirmed that the European Cup-Winners' Cup, inaugurated in the 1960-61 season, will be discontinued after this season and merged with an enlarged Uefa Cup.

Hull City's owner, David Lloyd, said yesterday he will shut down the Third Division club unless a buyer comes forward. Britain's Davis Cup tennis captain, who put the club up for sale on Saturday, is prepared to write off pounds 4m he has put in unless "someone comes forward to buy the club by this Friday".

He said: "This is not a threat. I have had my fill of certain people in Hull and I am going. I will not put the club into receivership or administration. I don't have to do that because it is my money, my debt."

Nottingham Forest are offering Bolton pounds 3m for Nathan Blake in the hope of persuading the Welsh international striker not to join Wimbledon, who have made a similar bid. Bolton are willing to sell their leading scorer to balance their books after being relegated last season.

Forest's manager, Dave Bassett, is hoping to foil the club where he made his name as a player by offering Blake better terms. He knows Blake from his days working with him as the manager of Sheffield United.

The former Forest forward Nigel Clough has left Manchester City after the club agreed to pay up the nine remaining months if his contract.

The former England international, who has not played first-team football for City since the end of the 1996-97 season, had been on a annual salary of about pounds 250,000 since being signed by Alan Ball for pounds 1m in January 1996. He made 38 first- team appearances and in the at a cost of pounds 40,000 per game, including the fee and his wages.

West Ham have signed Michael Ferrante, an Australian under-21 international, on a three-year deal. The midfielder will arrive at Upton Park in December.

Craig Moore, a 22-year-old central defender, has completed his pounds 800,000 move from Rangers to Crystal Palace.

The Scottish Premier League will today discuss the best way of keeping their commitment to a 12-team division by the start of the 2000-01 season, but a decision on the precise formula for the new structure is unlikely to be reached at the Hampden Park meeting.

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