Sky is understood to be interested in buying the rights to the home legs of the three English football clubs competing in next season's Uefa Cup, writes John Plunkett.
Tottenham, Leeds and Newcastle have all qualified for next season's competition.

Last year, the BBC bought the rights to the home legs of three qualifiers, Aston Villa, Leeds and Blackburn (Broadcast, 31.7.98), although the teams were all knocked out in the early rounds.

With ITV having signed a new four-year deal in February for coverage of the Champions' League until 2003, the Uefa Cup is the only European club football left up for grabs.

Sky Sports has traditionally not shown English teams in Europe, although it did broadcast Manchester United's home matches in the Uefa Cup in 1995-96 (Broadcast, 25.7.95).

Channel 5 - which secured some of its biggest audiences for Chelsea's European Cup Winners' Cup campaigns last season and in 1997-98 - and the BBC are also believed to be interested in buying the rights.

Sky is currently awaiting the verdict of the Restrictive Practices Court in the 47-day case brought against it by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). The OFT argues that its deal with the Premier League is against the public interest.

A verdict is expected soon.