Uefa opposes Old Firm's switch to England

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The day when Celtic and Rangers meet Liverpool and Manchester United in domestic competition seemed far away yesterday when Uefa, the sport's European governing body, backtracked on earlier comments that it would not stand in the way of a plan by the Glasgow pair to join the English Premier League.

Uefa's chief executive Gerhard Aigner said: "The idea of these two clubs joining the Premier League was brought up by the clubs themselves but Uefa's position is that it believes in the national structures for the basis of our competition.

"We do not, as such, support teams moving from one country to another. In this specific case, if both associations and the league wish to change this principle they must make a proposal to the international bodies."

Uefa will announce its decision on a proposed venue switch for Rangers' Uefa Cup tie against Anzhi Makhachkala on Monday. The Ibrox club have been struggling to get insurance for their squad and staff to travel to Dagestan in Russia, where the game is due to be played.

The Scottish Football Association has joined the chorus from both the Ibrox club and the Foreign Office in expressing their desire for Uefa to switch the tie to another city.

In today's Premier League programme the Hearts assistant manager Peter Houston will be looking to jump over Rangers into second place with victory over Dick Advocaat's men at Tynecastle. "We have got to right our wrongs against the Old Firm," he said. "Against Rangers, particularly at home, we haven't done too well. We have go to improve our record against them. Our players need to be 100 per cent to get a result."

The Kilmarnock manager Bobby Williamson has threatened to drop players for Thursday's Uefa Cup tie if they fail to perform at Aberdeen.

The Ayrshire outfit face a tricky opening test in the competition when the Norwegian side Viking Stavanger come to Rugby Park. But they have been going well in the Premier League and are currently in fourth place, five points behind the leaders Celtic.

The Kilmarnock manager said: "We can't allow the European game to be a distraction. It is a cliché, but we'll have to take just one game at a time and that way we'll be focused on Aberdeen. If they are looking past this game, then we'll come unstuck. If they want to play in the European game they've got to perform well in this game and every game."