Premier League clubs yesterday gave the thumbs down to this summer's Intertoto Cup and their unanimous support to Tottenham and Wimbledon in their battle with Uefa, European football's governing body.
The two clubs were last week banned for a season from European competition after the shambles of last year's Intertoto tournament, in which they fielded under-strength teams, which has cost English football a Uefa Cup place in 1996/97.
However, the Premiership chief executive, Rick Parry, said the decision not to compete this coming close season was taken "purely on practical considerations". Clearly, however, chairmen are unhappy that the two London clubs have been made scapegoats - as is the Association, which is backing an appeal by Spurs and Wimbledon to have the suspension lifted.
Meanwhile, Uefa yesterday insisted it would maintain its three-foreigner limit this season. The decision puts it in conflict with the European Union's highest court, which ruled last month that the limit on foreigners is illegal and should be abolished. Uefa's stance- in the "interest of continuity and fairness" - also puts it at odds with the Premier League.
Rangers have completed the signing of the Dutch international striker, Peter van Vossen, 27, in a straight swap which has taken the Russian forward, Oleg Salenko, to the Turkish club, Istanbulspor. Osvaldo Ardiles, the former Tottenham manager, is to take charge of the Japanese club, Shimizu S-Pulse.
A foot injury has forced Mark Pembridge, the Sheffield Wednesday midfielder, to withdraw from the Welsh squad to face Italy in Terni next week.
NORTHERN IRELAND FIXTURES (1998 World Cup qualifying Group Nine: 1996: Sat 31 Aug: Ukraine (H). Sat 5 Oct: Armenia (H). Sat 9 Nov: Germany (A). Sat 14 Dec: Albania (H). 1997: Sat 29 Mar: Portugal (H). Wed 2 Apr: Ukraine (A). Wed 30 Apr: Armenia (A). Wed 20 Aug: Germany (H). Wed 10 Sept: Albania (A). Sat 11 Oct: Portugal (A).