Leicester await ruling on Belgrade trip

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The Independent Football

Leicester City will find out tomorrow whether they will have to visit Belgrade for their Uefa Cup first round encounter with Red Star Belgrade on 14 September.

Leicester City will find out tomorrow whether they will have to visit Belgrade for their Uefa Cup first round encounter with Red Star Belgrade on 14 September.

John Elsom, the Leicester chairman, and David Davies, the Football Association executive director, met with Uefa representatives in Switzerland yesterday to express their concerns about the trip to the Serbian capital.

The Filbert Street team have been advised by the Foreign Office not to travel and they have also been unable to secure insurance cover for the trip, which coincides with presidential elections in the country and would be the first visit by a British team since Nato air strikes in 1998.

All the official documentation was handed over to Uefa, who will now convene a special meeting to decide whether to stick with its original demand that the game should be played. "We have had a helpful and constructive meeting," said Mike Lee, the Uefa director of communications. "Uefa will now consider all of the relevant evidence and information and make a final decision by the end of this week."

Leeds United had been due to play in Belgrade in the Uefa Cup last season but their away game against Partizan was moved to the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, the Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, has called for Uefa to look into the behaviour of Turkish fans following a number of recent flashpoints.

There has been a history of trouble whenever English clubs have met Galatasaray - the most recent being the deaths of two Leeds fans in Istanbul earlier this year - and rival supporters clashed again when Arsenal met the Turkish team in the Uefa Cup final in Copenhagen. Leeds have been drawn against another Turkish side, Besiktas, in this season's Champions' League, sparking fears of further trouble both at Elland Road and at the game in Istanbul.

"You hope that Uefa are having a critical and serious look at Turkish fans' behaviour because it is not acceptable what sometimes goes on there," said Ferguson.

Ferguson feels that David O'Leary's side could do well in the Champions' League, despite being drawn in a tough opening group which includes Barcelona and Milan. "Leeds are good underdogs. Barcelona are going through a lot of changes and it could be a good time for them to go there," he said.

"I would also expect Arsenal to qualify. There have been no great changes to Arsenal's team from last year. People say about [Marc] Overmars and [Emmanuel] Petit, but I think Arsÿne [Wenger] knew he was not getting the best from them last year, so I think he did a great deal of business.

The United manager has also backed Rangers to progress to the latter stages of the competition for the first time. "Rangers' group is not bad," he said. "They could qualify from that group and then we would have a great examination of them. I wouldn't think they would win it, but if they get into the second phase I think that would be a great achievement for Rangers and for Scotland."

Looking ahead to his own side's chances, Ferguson played down the fact that they have been installed as the 5-1 favourites to lift the trophy.

"I can't see that, really," he said. "Real Madrid have added quite a few players to their squad, including [Luis] Figo, which has made them stronger in midfield.

"They will be a handful and are justifiable favourites, especially considering their history and how many times they have won this trophy."

Ferguson added: "Our strong point is that the squad who won the European Cup is still there, apart from Peter Schmeichel. And we have a fabulous replacement in Fabien Barthez.

"These players have grown up together and they have formed friendships that will last a long time. We have a great camaraderie and a team spirit that engenders a great feeling around the club."

Rangers have beaten a number of leading European clubs to sign the teenager Alex Hauser.

The 16-year-old Austrian has already make a big impact for his country's Under-18 side and with the youngster out of contract at FC Tirol, the Ibrox youth coaches moved quickly to sign him.

Rangers supporters will be hoping he can measure up to the example of another youngster plucked from obscurity - Milan's Rino Gattuso.

Dick Advocaat, the Rangers manager, said yesterday: "Yes, we have signed Alex Hauser, but that is more to do with the youth coaches than myself."

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