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Monaco to keep curtain-raiser

Monaco will continue to stage UEFA's pre-season gala events and the UEFA Super Cup for three years from 2006.

Major activities
The decision to keep the major activities, which herald the start of UEFA's new club season, in the Mediterranean principality was taken by the UEFA Executive Committee at its meeting in Manchester, and confirmed by European football's governing body on Thursday. This means the Super Cup will be played at the Stade Louis II in Monaco in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Awards and draws
UEFA made the decision after studying various financial and commercial criteria. Other bidders for the match and its associated events were Geneva and Barcelona. The European Club Football Gala dinner, in which awards are presented to the top players of the previous season, and the Super Cup fixture between the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup title-holders have been taking place in Monaco since 1998. The draws for the Champions League group stage and UEFA Cup first round are also held at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco during the same week.

Monaco commitment
"The Principality of Monaco is fully committed to the event," said UEFA, "and will continue to supply promotional investment towards it, as well as the infrastructure and assistance needed in staging such a large number of events at a very busy time in the principality's tourist season."

'Prestigious venue'
"We are delighted to be extending our agreement for a further three years, to hold the kick-off for the European club football season and the Super Cup in the principality of Monaco," said UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson. "It has always been a most prestigious and welcoming venue for the start of our European season, and we are convinced that with a few alterations to the programme of activities, we can further increase the stature of this traditional event."

Monaco delight
AS Monaco FC president Michel Pastor said: "We are delighted at this news, all the more so since we know the care and professionalism that UEFA puts into taking such decisions. We will do our utmost to ensure the continued success of this international gathering, and therefore continue to be a credit to the principality of Monaco."