Football League to defend European place

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The Independent Online

The Football League chief executive, David Burns, insisted yesterday that the Uefa Cup place for the winners of the Worthington Cup is "sacrosanct" – even if that means shelving plans for a British Cup.

Burns is in favour of bringing the League Cup competitions north and south of the border together from the semi-final stage of each to increase interest in both tournaments. But he said that retaining a place in Europe is the highest priority, ahead of unifying the cups.

"I must be honest and say the Uefa Cup place for the competition is sacrosanct," Burns said. "At this stage my belief is that should a Scottish team win the competition they would forfeit any right to that Uefa Cup place. But should that denigrate the competition and lead to any prospect of the competition losing that Uefa Cup place, any plans for a British Cup would be a non-starter."

The Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, flew to Germany yesterday in a bid to tie up a deal for France's Youri Djorkaeff. Allardyce has gone to see the Kaiserslautern attacker – the same method he used to sign Fredi Bobic. The Wanderers manager has been discussing a loan deal with Djorkaeff's agent and wants to talk the 33-year-old into a move that would suit both parties.

The Preston captain, Sean Gregan, was told yesterday hat he has not broken his left foot. Gregan was taken for X-rays with the problem after taking a painful blow during Tuesday's win over Sheffield Wednesday. However, a check-up showed there was no fracture and his manager, David Moyes, hopes to have him for the match with Manchester City on Sunday.

The Middlesbrough manager, Steve McClaren, is aiming to add to his attacking options by drafting in the Bradford City striker Benito Carbone after the clubs agreed a loan deal until the end of the season. The Italian, however, has already indicated that he would prefer a permanent transfer, and that could prove a sticking point when he meets McClaren for talks.

Motherwell have taken Gavin Strachan on loan for an initial period of three months. His club Coventry City have the option of recalling the midfielder after one month, but he has not featured in the first team since his father, Gordon Strachan, left to take over the manager's job at Southampton.

Football's world governing body, Fifa, confirmed yesterday that the Italian drugs bans handed to Jaap Stam and Josep Guardiola are to be extended worldwide. Stam, Lazio's former Manchester United defender, and the Brescia midfielder Guardiola were handed five and four-month back-dated bans, respectively, on 24 January because of their positive tests for nandrolone.

The pair are now suspended for all matches, including friendly games dating back from November 22 2001

The Internazionale president Massimo Moratti has dismissed Luiz Felipe Scolari's call for Ronaldo to stay in Brazil in preparation for the World Cup. Ronaldo has been making a stuttering comeback from a long-term knee injury at the San Siro club and Scolari, the Brazil coach, wants to oversee his progress at close quarters.

Scolari said: "Ronaldo has too many things to think about in Milan. In order to get his form back he should remain here Brazil for at least a month. Otherwise he is risking his World Cup chances."

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