Tuesday, February 27, 2007

European leagues want say on all football decisions

The new president of UEFA, European football's governing body, Michel Platini, is holding talks with delegates of the Association of European Professional Football Leagues which is headed by English Premier League chairman Sir David Richards. The EPFL represents 15 leagues from across the continent with another seven due to join later this year. Europe's top clubs have long urged the major leagues to demand a greater say in how UEFA and the world body FIFA are run and although threats of a breakaway and a breakaway European club competition have been played down, the EPFL is campaigning, on behalf of its leagues and clubs, for a much bigger say in how football is run at international level.

"With the influence of the G14 on the wane since UEFA's decision to bring the major European clubs in house with the formation of the European Club Forum, the EPFL's influence as a pressure group has been growing in recent months. Now, with the [English] Premiership flexing their financial muscles following the new three-year TV deal, which starts this summer, the EPFL are preparing to seize a much bigger say in how football is run at international level," David Bond commented in The Telegraph.

"The stakes have also been raised by Platini's election a month ago. He has pledged to reduce from four to three the number of automatic [UEFA] Champions League places which are given to Europe's major nations such as England, Italy and Spain. At the same time, [English] Premier League concerns remain over the Independent Sports Report by Portuguese government minister Jose Luis Arnaut. The [English] Premier League claims the report has been hijacked by UEFA and is being used to establish them as a European regulator for the sport."

Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, the EPFL's general manager, plays down talk of an impending split with UEFA: "There is no scenario of confrontation. What we need and what we are asking for is enhanced co-operation, possibly through full membership. We are aware of the problems clubs are facing and we have the expertise and know-how when it comes to running professional football. That's something that must be preserved at all costs - subsidiarity and autonomy."

But the EPFL is reported to be asking for seats not only on the UEFA executive committee but also on FIFA's - in order to ensure European league and club influence and representation on all key football decisions.

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