Football: United to cash in

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The Independent Online
UEFA, European football's governing body, confirmed yesterday that Manchester United have been seeded third - behind Milan and Ajax - in next season's European Cup, writes Rupert Metcalf.

However, Rangers will have to win a two-leg preliminary- round tie in August to join the eight top seeds in the Champions' League, while Northern Ireland's Linfield, the Republic's Shamrock Rovers and the League of Wales winners, Bangor City, are consigned to the Uefa Cup as part of the European reshuffle.

United's automatic placing in the Champions' League ensures them at least six lucrative games in the tournament and maybe more: the top two from each four-team group progress to the quarter-finals. Rangers will be in one of those groups if they survive the preliminary round on 10 and 24 August.

In the Cup-Winners' Cup, the holders, Arsenal, are the second seeds behind Sampdoria. Chelsea are seeded seventh and Dundee United are the No 13 seeds. In the Uefa Cup, Blackburn Rovers (No 17), Aston Villa (18) and Newcastle United (19) are exempt from preliminary round action - unlike Aberdeen (38) and Motherwell (39).

Bryan Robson, the Middlesbrough player-manager, made his first major signing yesterday when he paid pounds 1m for Aston Villa's England Under-21 defender, Neil Cox.

Rangers have completed the signing of the Danish international, Brian Laudrup, from Fiorentina.