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GENEVA -- In a power shift toward Europes wealthiest clubs, UEFA has agreed to give
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GENEVA -- In a power shift toward Europes wealthiest clubs, UEFA has agreed to give more guaranteed Champions League group-stage places to the four highest-ranked leagues. Spain, Germany, England and Italy each get four slots from the 2018-19 season.UEFA also promises that annual prize money to the 32 group-stage teams -- worth 1.32 billion euros ($1.49 billion) this season -- will be increased significantly for the three seasons through 2021.UEFA announced the deal on Friday after months of talks with the influential European Club Association, whose members raised an old threat of breaking away to form a closed Super League dominated by the rich and storied elite.I welcome UEFAs decision, it reflects a serious and fair solution for European club football, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the chairman of the ECA and Bayern Munich, said in a statement.Still, the deal to give 16 guaranteed group-stage places instead of 11 currently to clubs from the big-four leagues will inevitable squeeze teams from lower-ranked leagues.UEFA, the clubs, the leagues and the national associations speak with one voice on these matters, UEFA said in a statement.Italy is the big winner in the new agreement, which had to be completed this year to let UEFA start selling broadcasting and sponsorship rights for the 2018-21 commercial cycle.From 2018, the group stage will include the top four finishers in the previous seasons La Liga, Bundesliga, English Premier League, and Serie A who will have direct entry. They will avoid the risk of losing in the playoff qualifying round and miss tens of millions of euros (dollars) in UEFA prize money.In recent seasons, Italy typically has had only two group-stage teams because Serie As third-place team often loses in the playoffs. Roma was eliminated this week by Porto, giving fifth-ranked Portugal three teams in the groups draw on Thursday.Other changes announced on Friday are also likely to benefit the big four leagues.From the 2018 season, a Champions League groups slot will be guaranteed to the previous seasons Europa League winner. Currently, the Europa winner can be made to qualify through the playoffs.Sevilla has won the Europa League in both years since the incentive was offered, and Spain had five teams in the Champions League groups last season.UEFA has helped storied clubs who have slumped in recent seasons and would slip in the rankings which determine draw seeding.Historical success in the competition will also be acknowledged in coefficient calculation (points for previous European titles), UEFA said.That is effectively a cushion to prop up former European champions who have failed to qualify for the Champions League in recent seasons.Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, AC Milan and Inter Milan -- all Champions League winners in the past 12 seasons -- were missing from Thursdays draw.UEFA has yet to resolve how the changes will have a knock-on effect on smaller clubs access to the Champions League groups.Currently, 22 of the 32 slots are guaranteed to teams from 12 different leagues, including titleholders from Belgium, Switzerland, and Turkey. Those look to be at risk.Details of how the deal will squeeze clubs such as Belgiums Bruges and Switzerlands Basel will be finalized by the end of the year, UEFA said.Still, clubs from smaller TV markets can potentially earn a greater share of UEFA prize money after another rule change in how money is distributed.UEFA says the market pool system -- which steers money to clubs in England, Germany, and Italy, where the rights deals are bigger -- will be changed to reward better results in the competition.In another concession to the clubs, UEFA said it will create a subsidiary company which will play a strategic role in determining the future and the management of club competitions, and the ECA will appoint half of the managing directors. Bud Cooper Jersey Retro .S District Court against Major League Baseball, the Office of the Commissioner and his own union, the MLBPA. 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SEATTLE -- One after another, key players for Philadelphia and Seattle hobbled to the sideline on Sunday with injuries that could impact the teams beyond the Seahawks 26-15 victory over the Eagles.Earl Thomas, C.J. Prosise, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles all could be out for multiple weeks after getting hurt in a punishing contest.Seattle got its third straight win to move three games ahead in the NFC West race, but it came at a cost.Prosise will miss significant time with a scapula issue, according to Seattle coach Pete Carroll.There is a chance he comes back this year, yes, Carroll said. Well have to figure that out. Its going to be a while, though.The injury came just as Prosise was establishing himself as a threat in Seattles backfield. After fueling a surprising win over New England last week, Prosise ripped off a 72-yard touchdown run in the first quarter on Sunday.Then he got hurt just before halftime.And Prosise might not even be Seattles biggest injury.Thomas grabbed at his left hamstring while running downfield in coverage in the third quarter on a deep throw that Richard Sherman intercepted. Thomas was examined on the sideline for a short time and eventually went to the locker room. Carroll did not have an idea yet on how long the free safety may be out, but once Thomas left, Philadelphia was able to find gaps in the secondary that werent available earlier in the game.I was very confused man, just looking out there and used to seeing your normal guys out there and just having different faces out there, linebacker K.J. Wright said. Hopefully, we get those guys back, but it just shows those guys got to be ready each and every week because you never know when your name is going to be called, and so well be fine.Seattles two big losses were countered by a pair of siignificant blows to Philadelphias backfield.dddddddddddd Mathews injured his knee and Sproles hurt his ribs, both in the second quarter. Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson said he would not have an update on their conditions until the team returned home, but the injuries left the Eagles relying on Kenjon Barner and, specifically, rookie Wendell Smallwood in the backfield. Smallwood had 13 carries for 48 yards and caught another four passes for 31 yards.It was tough. I think Sproles creates mismatches in the passing game. Ryan Mathews, obviously hes been running great the past few weeks and today he started off really strong, Philadelphia rookie quarterback Carson Wentz said. Wendell and Kenjon, we have a lot of confidence in; I think thats a position we have a lot of depth at. I think those guys stepped up big.In total, 17 players left the game for at least one play due to injury. For Seattle, that included strong safety Kam Chancellor, left tackle George Fant and linebacker Brock Coyle, all of whom returned. Starting cornerback DeShawn Shead felt something in his hamstring during Saturdays walkthrough and could not get loose on Sunday, playing just sparingly in the first half. His replacement, Neiko Thorpe, had to leave in the fourth quarter due to cramps.In addition to Mathews and Sproles, Philadelphia lost right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai to a leg injury in the fourth quarter. Defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Connor Barwin, left tackle Jason Peters and cornerback Leonis McKelvin also all left for a time with injuries. Cox, Barwin and Peters all returned.---NFL:For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL . ' ' '
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