Sporting Digest: Football

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The Independent Online
Sunderland attracted a crowd of 20,583 to the Stadium of Light for last night's Pontins Central League match against Manchester United Reserves. The Wearsiders beat the Premier Division League leaders 2-0, with goals from Danny Dichio and Michael Proctor.

Scotland's top clubs are set for an increase in the number of league games they play, rather than a reduction as sought by Uefa. The Scottish Premier League said yesterday that it is committed to changing from its current 10 club set-up to 12 teams by 2000. Scotland's top sides currently play 36 league games each season, while European football's governing body is advising that 34 is the limit and would like to scale that down to 30 to fit in the expanded Champions' League and Uefa Cup competitions. A 12-club league would force the Scottish Premier League to follow Switzerland and Austria in splitting its championship into top and bottom groups to keep the fixture increase to a minimum.

Bristol Rovers have failed in a bid to sign the Portsmouth central defender Andy Thomson in a pounds 60,000 deal. The Rovers manager, Ian Holloway, had talks with the 24-year-old on Wednesday and offered him a four-year contract, but Thomson has decided to see out the rest of the season with Pompey.

Coventry City completed the signing of the Australian striker John Aloisi from Portsmouth for pounds 650,000 yesterday.

The Charlton Athletic striker Kevin Lisbie will be out for six weeks after suffering shoulder ligament damage in a reserve fixture.

The Swiss champions, Grasshopper Zurich, yesterday fired their coach, Rolf Fringer, who took over from Christian Gross after his move to Tottenham.

The head of the Italian Football Federation, Luciano Nizzola, was officially placed under investigation yesterday as part of an ongoing probe into doping in sport.

The former Sainsbury's director, Bob Cooper, has been named as the new chairman of Norwich City. He replaces Barry Lockwood.