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Wayne Harrison was not the most fortunate of footballers. Blessed with a sublime talent for sniffing out goal-scoring opportunities and converting them with consummate skill, he became the world's most expensive teenager when Liverpool – then the mightiest club in the land – paid Oldham Athletic £250,000 for his predatory services in the spring of 1985.

Outside the Box: Villa could be undermined by 'four and then no more' ruling

Confirmation comes from Uefa of a scenario to fill supporters of Aston Villa with dread: how Martin O'Neill and his team could finish fourth in the Premier League and still not even make the Champions' League qualifying round. That would happen if, say, Arsenal or Liverpool were to win the Champions' League but end up fifth in the table – just as Liverpool did in 2005. On that occasion they were eventually allowed into the following season's competition as well as the teams above them, including fourth-placed Everton. Now, however, in that situation the team finishing fourth would drop down to the newly named Europa League, an even more overblown version of the Uefa Cup, in which Villa last week felt compelled to field a reserve team. This is all part of the supposed democratisation policy of Uefa's president, Michel Platini. Or, as a Uefa spokesman poetically put it: "It's four and then no more."

Servicemen killed in Afghanistan named

Two British servicemen killed in southern Afghanistan were named today.

Let's strike gold in Abu Derby, says City great

Summerbee aims to have the last laugh over guffawing Ferguson today and reveals why he thinks Ronaldo will never be the Best

Letters: Town-hall economics

Financial crisis casts light on town-hall economics

FA issue charges

The Football Association have issued five charges relating to breaches of the organisation's Football Agents Regulations.

Fred Yates: Self-styled 'happy Lowry'

The painter Fred Yates used colour to break away from the early influence of L.S. Lowry, whom he knew in post-war Manchester art circles. Despite the local industrial landscape "school" Lowry spawned, there were as many canvases at inter-war Manchester Academy exhibitions of holiday beaches as there were of chimneys and smog. It was to this tradition of northern escapism that Yates, a self-styled "happy Lowry", belonged.

Rochdale 2 Stockport County 3: Dickinson strike sends Stockport into raptures

On this last day of the domestic English football season, Jim Gannon was able to claim a first of his own. In all four previous visits to Wembley in his decade as a Stockport player he had suffered defeat. Now, on this first appearance as their manager, the Irishman could claim his first win.

Owen to wear mask at Wembley

Stockport County's captain, Gareth Owen, will wear a protective mask in today's League Two play-off final at Wembley. The defender broke his cheekbone in the semi-final victory over Wycombe Wanderers.

Blatter aiming to placate Platini on foreigners quota

The president of Fifa, Sepp Blatter, will meet his counterpart at Uefa, Michel Platini, today in an attempt to settle their differences over Blatter's controversial plan to impose limits on overseas players.

Rochdale 2 Darlington 1: Rochdale ready at last for 'giant leap'

Footballing glory is not a phrase readily associated with Rochdale, but history beckons for the Lancashire outfit in the Coca-Cola League Two play-off final against Stockport.

Stockport County 1 Wycombe Wanderers 0: Dickinson goal signals change in fortune for Stockport

Two seasons ago Stockport County appeared destined to fall out of the Football League while striker Liam Dickinson was playing part-time for local non-league club Woodley Sports.

Rochdale 2 Darlington 1 <i>(3-3 aet; Roch. win 5-4 on pens)</i>: Spot-on Dale set up Stockport showdown

The Rochdale manager, Keith Hill, has urged his side to create history in the League Two play-off final at Wembley a week tomorrow. The Lancashire side have not won a promotion since 1969 and have been in thebottom tier of English football since 1974, the longest unbroken run in the Football League's basement division.

Rochdale take up arms to end lengthy wait

While the rest of the country tune into Wembley for this afternoon's 127th FA Cup final, four sides meet either side of the showpiece match, vying for the opportunity to follow Portsmouth and Cardiff to the famous stadium and earn a place in League One next season.

MK Dons win makes promotion a certainty

Keith Andrews, the League Two player of the year, scored the decisive goal for MK Dons in a 3-2 victory at Stockport which clinched a League Two automatic promotion place for Paul Ince's side. Stockport took the lead before Dons hit back a minute later through Mark Wright. Stockport went ahead again before Alan Navarro made it 2-2 and Andrews then stole the points for Ince's side when he smashed the ball home.

Leeds wait for verdict that may decide League One promotion

At this stage of the season the promotion and relegation issues are often complicated enough with fans taking calculators as well as radios to matches. In League One, however, the uncertainty principle applies to all computations as no one knows whether Leeds United's 15-point deduction is about to be confirmed, reduced or expunged.

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Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

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The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
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Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

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Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

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Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
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