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Stage set for Regions' Cup draw

A total of 37 nations will be interested parties as the draw for the 2006/07 UEFA Regions' Cup takes place at UEFA's Nyon headquarters on 15 March.

A total of 37 nations will be interested parties as the draw for the 2006/07 UEFA Regions' Cup takes place at UEFA's Nyon headquarters on 15 March as part of the 6th UEFA Grassroots course.

Two-tier draw
The draw, which will take place at 14:00 CET under the guidance of UEFA Youth and Amateur Football Committee chairman Jim Boyce and one-time UEFA Champions League winner Paulo Sousa, formerly of Juventus and BV Borussia Dortmund, with a preliminary round being contested, followed by an intermediary round of eight four-team mini-tournaments leading to the eight-team finals tournament in June 2007.

Automatic bye
The 20 associations who have already participated in the final round of the Regions' Cup are exempt from the preliminary stage. Spain, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, Italy, Portugal, Croatia, Serbia & Montenegro, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Republic of Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, France, Hungary, Azerbaijan, Slovakia will thus all progress straight to the intermediary round draw.

Geographical regions
The remaining 17 nations have been divided into two geographical groups - Central/West and Central/East. Central/West features Northern Ireland, Sweden, England, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Scotland. Central/East comprises Greece, Slovenia, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Belarus, Malta, Moldova, Russia and Belgium.

Generous hosts
With Northern Ireland and Greece having elected to host preliminary stage four-team mini-tournaments, the first stage of the draw will see three sides elected from the respective Central/West and Central/East pots to compete with them, while the nine undrawn sides will be placed in the pot for the intermediary round draw.

Important dates
Three places in that draw will also be set aside for the winners of both of the preliminary round mini-tournaments and the best runner up from the two groups. All the preliminary round games will be played between 1 August and 30 September 2006.

Eight groups
The intermediary round will thus be contested by 32 sides who will divided into groups of four to contest eight mini-tournaments. Groups which feature no sides from the preliminary round will be contested between 1 August and 31 December 2006, with those including preliminary round qualifiers being resolved between 1 October 2006 and 30 April 2007. The overall winners in each group will qualify for the finals.

Dividing criteria
Once more, in order to reduce expense for travelling teams, the sides will be divided into regional groups - Central/East and Central/West. The teams who were not drawn in the preliminary round will stay in their original geographical groups, as will the winners of the two preliminary round groups, with the best runners-up from the two preliminary round groups being placed in the Central/West pot.

Imtermediary sides
The Central/West pot will also include intermediary round qualifiers Slovakia, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland, France, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Hungary. Central/East will feature Romania, Italy, Germany, Serbia & Montenegro, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria and Switzerland.

France, the Netherlands, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Czech Republic have already agreed to host Groups 1 to 4 respectively in the intermediary round, while the Central/East Groups 5 to 7 will be hosted by Ukraine, Georgia and Bulgaria respectively with the host of Group 8 to be decided following discussions with the four associations drawn in the section.

Drawn first
The winners of the Central/West preliminary round and the best runners-up will be drawn first to ensure that they do not meet each other again in the intermediary round. The remaining sides will then be drawn into their groups in preparation for the world's most important amateur football tournament.