Sporting Digest: Football

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The Independent Online
Channel Five TV has won the exclusive live rights for Chelsea's defence of the European Cup-Winners' Cup next season. It will also have live coverage of Liverpool's home games in the Uefa Cup in 1998-99.

The former World Cup official Philip Don is to become the Premier League's first referees' officer. Don, who officiated at the World Cup finals in the United States four years ago as well as the 1992 FA Cup final, the 1994 European Cup final and the 1995 Coca-Cola Cup final, will take up his post at the start of next season, and will help to improve the links between referees, managers and players.

Middlesbrough will have a new pitch at the Riverside Stadium for their return to the Premiership in August. Work has begun on digging up the three-year-old pitch that was affected by heavy rain last season.

Poland's sports minister, Jacek Debski, has dismissed 22 soccer administrators from the Polish Soccer Federation because they refused to submit to a probe of mismanagement accusations.

The Dutch Football Association has dropped Rotterdam from its venues after the city's mayor ruled that Sunday's Dutch Cup final between Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven had to be played three hours earlier than planned. The kick-off was moved to the afternoon because of fears of increased crowd trouble in the evening.

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