Football: United warn Uefa over super league

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The Independent Online
MANCHESTER UNITED have warned Uefa they will not wait a long time for European football's governing body to respond to proposals for a breakaway super league.

As Uefa's executive committee were preparing to meet today in Monaco to consider their own counter-proposals, Peter Kenyon, a United director, insisted that there had to be "some urgency" to the discussions.

Kenyon maintained United, Arsenal and the other leading European clubs involved in the renegade super league still wanted Uefa to retain a role overseeing any future competitions. He stressed, however, United were still prepared to join another venture - being planned by the Milan-based marketing company, Media Partners - should Uefa stall for too long in implementing wide-ranging changes to European club football.

"We've not committed to anything, apart from evaluating the proposals that are on the table from Media Partners and the expected proposals from Uefa," said Kenyon, who has been United's main negotiator during secret super league discussions.

"But we can't wait ad infinitum. We are talking about a competition starting in the year 2000 and you can't decide to do things only a couple of months before the event. So I think there will have to be some urgency to the discussions."

Kenyon added: "It is not a question of revolution, rather of evolution." He said he hoped Uefa will have a part to play in any future competitions, possibly in the way that the Football Association oversee the Premier League.

"At the moment, we're reviewing what we consider to be a very serious proposal but it would be remiss of us not to see Uefa's blueprint for European football. I think it's always been envisaged that anything going forward would include Uefa. It's a question of how that is achieved that is the critical issue."

Kenyon's comments are the strongest public confirmation yet that clubs such as United are still actively involved in Media Partners' plans. Uefa is unlikely to announce detailed changes to its competitions this weekend, and a timetable for change - but with no detail - is unlikely to keep many happy for long. Media Partners', moreover, has promised `significant developments' next week.

Meanwhile yesterday, Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said Dennis Bergkamp will not play in two of Arsenal's Champions' League group games because of his fear of flying. The Dutch striker will miss the Gunners' Arsenal's visits to the Ukrainian champions, Dynamo Kiev, in November and their final group game against Panathanaikos of Greece in December. Both journeys would involve a minimum 72-hour round trips by rail and road.

"We are not trying to persuade him to play and travelling by other methods is no good because he would be too knackered to play," Wenger said.

The millionaire businessman Barry Rubery could take control of Huddersfield Town after making a reported pounds 50m from the flotation of his company Pace Micro Technology, on the Stock Market two years ago. Rubery has been in talks with the First Division club's board with a view to gaining a substantial shareholding.