Euro play-off teams are unlikely to be seeded

Officials from European football's governing body, Uefa, are expected to rule that there will be no seedings for the Euro 2004 play-offs when they meet in Bratislava, Slovakia, today.

Eight teams will play off for four places in next summer's finals in Portugal and although the executive committee of Uefa can decide to seed the teams in the draw, they are expected to maintain the status quo. A decision is expected today or tomorrow.

There were no seedings when England and Scotland were drawn against each other to qualify for the Euro 2000 finals and that policy is set to be kept. Depending on results, England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland could all be involved in the play-offs.

Nationwide, sponsors of the England national team, have backed calls for the crucial Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey next month to be shown on terrestrial television. The Sports Minister, Richard Caborn, has called for Sky to share coverage with another broadcaster to dissuade fans from travelling to Istanbul. The Football Association have refused their ticket allocation for the match on 11 October and implored supporters not to go to Turkey.

Nationwide, one of the FA's five commercial partners and former sole sponsors of the England team, have joined the plea to make TV access easier. Peter Gandolfi, Nationwide's head of sports marketing, said: "This is England's biggest game since the World Cup quarter-final 16 months ago and a terrestrial television partner would give as many people as possible the opportunity to see this event.

"I am sure the level of interest in the game in Istanbul will be at a similar level to that of England's clash with Brazil in Shizuoka and the widest possible audience has to be a positive factor for the country and from a security point of view."

The Turkish FA had exclusive rights to sell the match in England and chose to accept an offer from Sky. The FA fear that crowd trouble in Istanbul could lead to England being banned from the Euro 2004 finals.

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