Michel Platini sets out to tighten club controls

05 February 2009 09:12
Speaking during a 48-hour visit to London that presented a valuable lobbying opportunity for the 2018 World Cup bid, Platini insisted that he was not an enemy of the English game.

He will, however, pursue financial regulations unpopular with English clubs because of his "philosophical" commitment to a vision of equity and fair play in European football.

Platini also said he would lobby Fifa to limit the 2018 World Cup to European bids, adding that if he was not successful Uefa's executive committee might meet to choose a candidate from England, Russia and the combined bids of Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Holland.

The Frenchman's financial agenda has met opposition from the Premier League, but the former European Footballer of the Year said he was not motivated by a desire to curb their dominance of the Champions League, with at least one English side in the past four finals.

"I do not do these things because I lie awake at night thinking of ways to stop the English," he said. "I do it because the clubs across Europe ask me to do something as president of Uefa to help everyone have a fair chance of winning. I do not have a bad rapport with anyone, but I do have a philosophy of football, and perhaps that philosophy is different."

Uefa are considering ways of increasing financial regulation of their own competitions, intended to combat what Platini feels is the unhealthy dominance of a small elite of clubs.

Among the options are a salary cap based on wages as a percentage of turnover, and restricting squad sizes so that the richest clubs are unable to hoard the best talent.

March's meeting of Uefa's strategy council will consider the options before making a recommendation to Uefa's executive committee. Platini said any changes affecting entry to the Uefa Cup and Champions League would not be introduced for two or three seasons, and only with the full support of clubs.

Platini objects most fiercely to the reliance on "soft loans" from proprietors that have allowed clubs such as Chelsea and latterly Manchester City to live beyond their means. He described City's £109 million bid for Kaka as "ridiculous" and "unethical", and repeated his conviction that for clubs to spend much more than they earn from football-related revenues was unfair.

"It is not interesting in England when the same four teams finish at the top each year, or in France when Lyon win seven times in a row. It is about ensuring there is financial fair play. One possibility is that we say clubs have to live within their own income and operate within reasonable financial rules." Platini would also like the transfer system to be reformed so that players could not appear for different teams in a domestic competition during the same season.

Some of Platini's concerns are shared by Football Association chairman Lord Triesman, who antagonised the Premier League by making them public last October, and their relationship could have a material affect on the 2018 bid.

Source: Telegraph