Spurs drawn with Shamrock Rovers

MONACO - Atletico Madrid, who lifted the Europa League trophy in 2010, will face Udinese of Italy, Stade Rennes of France and either FC Sion or Celtic in the group stage of this season's competition, following Friday's draw.

Although Swiss club Sion were placed in the group, UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino took the unusual step of announcing before the draw started that Sion were only included provisionally because of a Celtic protest over ineligible players.

Earlier he told reporters that an appeals procedure was going ahead and that the situation was pending with a decision to be taken on whether Sion were kicked out or not before the competition begins on September 15.

Sion defeated Celtic in the play-offs leaving Scotland without a club in European competition this season, but Celtic could yet be reprieved.

With last season's winners Porto in the Champions League this season, defeated finalists SC Braga will be hoping for a repeat in reaching the final and will play Club Bruges, Birmingham City, back in Europe for the first time in 50 years, and Maribor.

Two Romanian clubs will be hoping to reach this season's final in their capital city of Bucharest, with former European champions Steaua Bucharest drawn against ex-UEFA Cup winners Schalke 04, Maccabi Haifa and AEK Larnaca.

Rapid Bucharest will play former European champions PSV Eindhoven, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Legia Warsaw.

Vaslui, the third Romanian club in the competition, will face 2005 runners-up Sporting Lisbon, Lazio and FC Zurich.

While there were no Scottish clubs in the draw, there was a first for Ireland with Shamrock Rovers, who defeated 1966 European Cup finalists Partizan Belgrade in a play-off on Thursday, the first Irish side to make it to the group stage.

They were drawn with Tottenham Hotspur, UEFA Cup winners in 1972 and 1984, Rubin Kazan of Russia and PAOK Salonica of Greece with the Spurs tie the highlight for the Dublin-based club, where Tottenham along with many other English clubs have a large fan-base.

As well as Spurs and Birmingham, Fulham, 2010 runners-up to Atletico, are back and will face Twente Enschede, a trip home for their Dutch coach Martin Jol, Odense and Wislaw Krakow.

Stoke City, in the Europa League for the first time, play Dynamo Kiev, Besiktas and Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Draw for the group stage of the 2011/12 Europa League made on Friday:

Group A

Tottenham Hotspur

Rubin Kazan

PAOK Salonika

Shamrock Rovers

Group B

FC Copenhagen

Standard Liege

Hannover 96

Vorskla Poltava

Group C

PSV Eindhoven

Hapoel Tel Aviv

Rapid Bucharest

Legia Warsaw

Group D

Sporting

Lazio

FC Zurich

FC Vaslui

Group E

Dynamo Kiev

Besiktas

Stoke City

Maccabi Tel Aviv

Group F

Paris Saint-Germain

Athletic Bilbao

Salzburg

Slovan Bratislava

Group G

AZ Alkmaar

Metalist Kharkiv

Austria Vienna

Malmo

Group H

SC Braga

Club Bruges

Birmingham City

Maribor

Group I

Atletico Madrid

Udinese

Stade Rennes

FC Sion

Group J

Schalke 04

Steaua Bucharest

Maccabi Haifa

AEK Larnaca

Group K

Twente Enschede

Fulham

Odense

Wislaw Krakow

Group L

Anderlecht

AEK Athens

Lokomotiv Moscow

Sturm Graz

- - -

Matchday One: September 15

Matchday Two: September 29

Matchday Three: October 20

Matchday Four: November 3

Matchday Five: November 30/December 1

Matchday Six: December 14/15

Round of 32: First leg February 16, Second leg February 23

Round of 16: First leg: March 8 Second leg March 15

Quarter-finals: First leg March 29, second leg April 5

Semi-finals: First leg: April 19, April 26

Final: Bucharest, May 9