Transfer windows recommended

UEFA has recommended adopting uniform domestic and international transfer windows from 2002/03.

UEFA is advising its 51 member associations to adopt uniform domestic and international transfer windows from the 2002/03 season. The recommendation was issued by the UEFA Executive Committee at its two-day meeting in Porto, Portugal.

Summer and winter periods
Europe's national football associations are being recommended to introduce harmonised transfer periods for European professional football covering a summer period, from the end of the domestic season to 31 August, and a winter period running from 1 to 31 January. European football's governing body said that appropriate provisions would be made for countries whose seasons run in accordance with the calendar year.

Final decision with associations
UEFA said in a statement that each association would be entitled to consider the recommendation before deciding on how to implement an appropriate system. "It is up to the associations to take the final decision, and adapt themselves according to any special circumstances," added UEFA President Lennart Johansson.

EURO 2004™ preparations
In other developments, UEFA said that the Executive Committee had received a "very positive" report on preparations for the EURO 2004™ final round in Portugal. Referring to the stadium construction programme which is currently under way, UEFA's director of professional football and marketing, Lars-Christer Olsson, said: "They are working according to plan in Portugal, and we are happy with the progress of the construction."

EU discussions
Discussions are in progress between UEFA and the European Commission regarding the sales of UEFA Champions League TV rights, and the Executive Committee studied a situation report on the talks which, according to UEFA Chief Executive Gerhard Aigner, are still at a "technical level".

Doping working group
The Executive Committee agreed to set up a working group on the co-ordination of doping rules and regulations in European football, and approved the admission of eight new countries - Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Republic of Ireland, Malta, Poland and Wales - to the UEFA convention on the mutual recognition of coaching qualifications.

Congress programme approved
Approval was given to the agenda and programme for the XXVI Ordinary UEFA Congress, which will take place in Stockholm on 25 April this year. On Wednesday, meanwhile, the Executive Committee approved the draw procedure for Friday's EURO 2004™ qualifying competition draw at Europarque in Santa Maria da Feira, Porto.

Fifty teams in the hat
The competition between September 2002 and October 2003 will involve ten qualifying groups of five teams each, with the final-round field in Portugal in summer 2004 narrowed down to the Portuguese hosts, the ten qualifying group winners and the five winners of play-offs between the ten group runners-up in November 2003.