Administration for Leeds to lead to nine-point deduction

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The Independent Football

Leeds United face having nine points deducted this season, and almost certain relegation, if they go into administration.

The club thought it had escaped that potential punishment when the Premiership clubs voted to introduce the rule for next season. However, several leading chairmen are lobbying for the penalty to be brought in if Leeds escape relegation and then go into administration in June.

Leeds would face some hostile opposition if they pulled off a remarkable escape and then took the administration route.

The vote to bring in the nine-point penalty was carried by a 15 to five majority at last week's meeting. As expected Leeds and Leicester were among those opposed to the plan. Manchester City were also against penalties as were Arsenal and Tottenham. But the rest of the Premiership felt the move was right.

The level of anger against clubs who use the administration method to reduce their debts is such that there would probably be enough support to punish Leeds. The question would then be whether a relegated side was saved or another promoted from the First Division, with the former solution favourite.

Meanwhile, more than 2,000 known English hooligans will be banned from travelling to the European Championships in Portugal and undercover police officers will be deployed to identify more potential troublemakers, police said yesterday.

With as many as 50,000 fans likely to be among the 200,000 Britons who are expected to visit Portugal on holiday, there is the potential for widespread trouble at the championships in June and July. There will be a test of security when Portugal entertain England in an exhibition game at the Algarve Stadium on 18 February.

The Home Office minister, Hazel Blears, will visit Portugal to attend the friendly and discuss security for Euro 2004.

Police are confident they have the legislation to prevent most of the hooligans from travelling by ordering them to hand in passports and report to their local police stations when the games are taking place. England face France, Croatia and Switzerland in their group games in Lisbon and Coimbra.

"The tough banning order legislation is working well," said David Swift, deputy chief constable of Staffordshire Police and football spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers. "Around 2,000 individuals are currently subject to banning orders preventing them from travelling to matches overseas and that number is expected to rise before the tournament. Last summer the figure was 1,700 and, before Euro 2000, it was 100."

Swift added that during the tournament there would be 20 British police officers with vast experience of handling trouble at games and spotting known troublemakers.

Elsewhere, Fifa kicked off their centenary celebrations yesterday by unveiling the first five from the list of the game's 100 greatest living players chosen by Pele. The five players are Thierry Henry, Roy Keane, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the former Germany striker, Roberto Baggio, of Italy, and Mia Hamm, of the United States.