Newcastle United will return to Premiership action in August determined to launch a fresh assault on Europe after missing out in the Fair Play lottery yesterday.
They were one of 11 clubs throughout the continent to go into the hat for the Fair Play League draw in Nyon, Switzerland, with two Uefa Cup places available. But both they and the Scottish side Dunfermline Athletic were unlucky as the Finnish club Myllykosken Pallo-47 and a representative from Slovakia, where the season is still in progress, were handed the wild-card entries, along with the table-toppers Shakhtior Soligorsk of Belarus, into the preliminary round in August.
The news was greeted with disappointment on Tyneside, but the Magpies knew their hopes of a back-door route relied purely on luck. "We were fully aware it was only a slim chance of gaining a place in the competition, so while we are obviously disappointed, it was realistic not to expect too much," said their director of football administration, Russell Cushing. "As always, we will be aiming for entry into European competition next season through the more conventional route."
Celtic's major shareholder, Dermot Desmond, yesterday appeared to clear the way for a major summer spending spree in readiness for their Champions' League campaign. The Bhoys' manager, Martin O'Neill, has made it clear that he wants to increase his squad by at least four players by the time the new season kicks off.
"What we have to do is make sure we are behind Martin with whatever resources he needs as he attempts to develop the team and fully participate in his plans and vision for the future of the club," Desmond said.
Celtic will be making their second attempt to reach the group stages of the Champions' League, having failed to negotiate the qualifying stages in 1998. "I would celebrate getting through the qualifying round and into the Champions' League just as much as I celebrated winning the Championship," Desmond added. "I think it is important for the club to try and make a mark on Europe, but I have no doubt that it will be a very hard task and making it into the first round of the Champions' League would be outstanding."
The Bayern Munich president, Franz Beckenbauer, has admitted that the European Cup winners are preparing for a major team clear-out this summer. Bixente Lizarazu and Steffan Effenberg were already tipped to leave the club, but now Oliver Kahn and Carsten Jancker are reported to be considering moves away from the Olympic Stadium.
"The team has now reached the pinnacle of what they can achieve," Beckenbauer said. "In order not to fall down, we have to rebuild our squad and we probably will have to replace at least 50 per cent of our guys by the end of 2003."
Lizarazu is interesting Manchester United, and Effenberg also wants a move to England, or America, while Jancker is drawing attention from Fiorentina in Italy. The loss of Kahn, though, would come as a hammer blow to Bayern, who are priming the goalkeeper for a future coaching role. "Either I stay with Bayern Munich forever, as they also mentioned a career after my playing career, or I will take a risk and move abroad," he said. "I am going on holiday soon and will think a lot about it all so I can make a decision when I return to Germany."
Barcelona are set to name Carles Rexach as their permanent coach after offering him a two-year contract. Rexach was given the job on a caretaker basis in April, following the dismissal of Llorenc Serra Ferrer.Reuse content