Last updated : 29 June 2004 By editor

UEFA is said to be upset that the countries with the biggest TV audiences have been knocked out of the European Championships too early.

'England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France were all eliminated before the semi-final stage to cause concern at the highest levels of the European game. UEFA needs the countries with the largest television and advertising markets to be in at the business end of tournaments to ensure the multi-billion pound cash cow can still be milked.

But after a Champions League season which saw Porto play Monaco in the final, senior UEFA figures have decided that radical action is needed. And that could mean the Premiership being forced to slash FOUR clubs over the next three seasons or risk being barred from entering clubs in the Champions League or UEFA Cup.

One senior UEFA source told Mirror Sport: "There are great lessons here in this tournament. We now have to act according to those lessons."

UEFA President and Arsenal fan Lennart Johansson has already indicated that the demands of club commitments have to be reduced. Johansson said: "International football is very important but so is the health of the players. They should play fewer matches for their clubs. That is why we changed the Champions League format so there were only 13 games this season rather than 17. But maybe that action is not enough."

Premier League spokesman Phil French responded: "There are absolutely no plans for a change in the format of the Premier League competition and we have had no contact from UEFA suggesting that they wish to do so."

One gaping hole in the Mirror's story is that most of the players who play for the countries that remain in Portugal play in either England, Germany, Italy, Spain or France. Still not like the Mirror to let the facts get in the way of a good old shit stir eh?