3 up and 5 down next season? Not if the television paymasters have their say. From the Telegraph’s Mihr Bose.

The Premier League are heading for a showdown with Fifa after football’s world governing body announced yesterday that all top divisions in Europe must have no more than 18 clubs from the 2007-2008 season.

With the 20-strong Premier League operating a three up, three down system, they would have to relegate five clubs at the end of next season.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter insisted: “The reduction will come by the 2007-08 season. Instead of playing 38 matches, clubs will play 34, and you will have four more dates for the international calendar. The clubs will be happy.”

However, the plans were immediately attacked by the Premier League. Spokesman Dan Johnson said: “There’s only one group of people who decide the make-up of the Premier League, and that’s the 20 clubs.

“There is no appetite to reduce the size and Fifa cannot force it on us.

“We reduced the league from 22 clubs to 20 in 1995-96, and since then Uefa have expanded the Champions League, Fifa have expanded the World Cup and brought in the Confederations Cup and World Club Championship, so it’s a bit rich for anyone to talk about reducing the number of matches.”

Geoff Thompson, chairman of the Football Association, said there would be huge implications for broadcasters. Coincidentally, the BBC last night secured a three-year deal for Match of the Day from 2007 for £171 million, an increase of 63 per cent.

Correspondent Jay Strells writes that his pal Sartorius, “hoping for a Shaggy-like following”, has recorded “a novelty dancehall reggae single”, “World Cup Man”. (mp3)

I really think Jay needs some new friends.

That said, not everyone’s quicky World Cup single can measure up to the standard set by The Wot Nots’ “It’s There For The Taking” (Windows Media Player Required)

Warning advertisers that “liking football does not a gullible idiot make,” the Guardian’s Gemma Clarke has seen enough in the way of dubious commercials.

The thud of boot on ball, the sound of a cheering crowd, a slow-mo shot of a diving keeper, it can only be … drum-roll … a three-seater manual double-reclining sofa from DFS. Or Land of Leather. The voiceover: “Buy now and you can have your sofa delivered before the World Cup!”

Eh? Has everyone been sitting on the floor until now? Are people around the country standing in empty rooms, leaning on walls and thinking: “Hey – the World Cup’s about to start, it’s about time I bought some furniture!”

And if the sincere, “we can win it” tack doesn’t work, there’s always the smug, conspiratorial “come on fellas, we all love football, now let’s all have a laugh” tone.

Ho, ho … Michael Owen locked in a cupboard! It’s so funny, it makes me want to order a big, fat disk of lardy melted cheese covered in meaty footballs! Which are actually just meatballs, but the crucial inclusion of that word ‘foot’ really helps sell a pizza at World Cup time. God be with the days when England footballers waited until after their ignominious tournament exit to hawk pizzas.

Oh… and if Carlsberg is promoting “probably” the best pub team in the world, then how come Sir Bobby Robson’s in charge?

Werder Bremen’s Tim Borowski (above) is said to be starting for Germany tomorrow in place of Michael Ballack. Bad news for Costa Rica, who were praying that Joe Borowski would come staggering in from the bullpen.