UEFA Cup bonus for Ipswich and Sigma

Ipswich Town FC and SK Sigma Olomouc have been drawn to enter the 2002/03 UEFA Cup.

Chairman David Sheepshanks said Ipswich Town FC had received "a big lift" after the English side and SK Sigma Olomouc of the Czech Republic were drawn to enter the 2002/03 UEFA Cup qualifying round via UEFA's Fair Play rankings.

Drawn in Basel
The two teams were drawn by former Swiss international Karl Odermatt from 17 potential candidates at the half-time interval of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship final between France and the Czech Republic in Basel, Switzerland. The 17 associations who went into the hat for the draw ended the 2001/02 UEFA competition season with a Fair Play rating of 8.00 or above, behind UEFA Fair Play winners Norway.

Norwegian representatives
SK Brann will represent Norway in the UEFA Cup qualifying round. They finished third in the Norwegian domestic Fair Play competition, but have won a UEFA Cup ticket because Rosenborg BK and Viking FK have already qualified for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup respectively.

Fourth in England
Ipswich, who were eliminated by Internazionale FC at the third-round stage of last season's UEFA Cup, finished fourth in England's fair play competition behind Manchester United FC, Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC, but all three of those clubs have already qualified for the Champions League.

'Great fun going into Europe'
The news is extremely welcome at Portman Road after a long season in which they were relegated from the FA Premiership. Sheepshanks said: "After all the disappointments of the last few weeks this comes as a big lift to the club and a big lift for the fans, too. We had great fun going into Europe last year and now we're one year older and one year wiser. It is a big bonus."

Champions League qualifiers
Sigma came third in the Czech Republic's Fair Play ranking, but the two clubs above them, AC Sparta Praha and FC Sloven Liberec, also occupied the leading two places in the 1. liga. In doing so they qualified for the Champions League, freeing Sigma to partake in tonight's draw and the UEFA Cup qualifying round.

All UEFA competition matches
UEFA's ranking list is based on all matches played in the UEFA competitions between 1 June 2001 and 27 May 2002. Marks are awarded to club and national teams for, among other things, positive play, conduct of players, team officials and spectators, red and yellow cards, and respecting of the referee.

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