14 March 2007

Platini's new proposals

Continuing on a topic we’re very interested in around these parts, newly-elected UEFA President Michel Platini spelled out some of the changes he’d been proposing for UEFA and the Champions League at a media briefing in London.

#1: Lower seeds from the major countries (England, Spain, Italy, France, Germany) will play each other rather than European minnows in the final qualifying round.

The centerpiece of Platini’s plan. He was elected by promising better Champions League representation for the smaller countries, and it seems this is how he plans on going about doing it. Well, it’s better than taking away England, Spain, or Italy’s fourth qualifying spot outright. I realize a lot of my complaining over this can be linked with Liverpool consistently finishing 3rd or 4th in the league, but it's more than that. Really.

Honestly, for neutrals, would you rather see Arsenal/Roma/Valencia (off the top of my head), or Liberec (Czech champions in 2006)/Legia Warsaw (Polish champions) in the group stage? I realize this sounds condescending, and I don’t mean it as so, but simply from a sporting perspective, the first group of teams deserves to be there as much as the second group. That’s what the qualifying rounds do now. These sets of teams already end up playing each other. The teams and federations involved in the CL are seeded, and the teams that deserve to progress out of the qualifying round do so by winning their games. Not because the UEFA President thinks we need more European countries represented out of some concept of fairness. I imagine you all are as sick of reading it as I am writing it, but it bears reiterating. Why kill the goose laying the golden egg? The Champions League is successful in the state it’s in.

#2: Establishing a UEFA strategic committee where UEFA, the European leagues, the clubs and the players' union FIFPro would each have an equal voice in deciding changes in European club football.

I can’t see what adding an extra layer of bureaucracy to the game’s overseers will accomplish, but it’s obvious Platini wants to lessen the power of the G-14 clubs at pretty much any cost. If Platini doesn’t stack the committee with allies, it may be beneficial involving the opinions of so many disparate bodies, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t. Nor do I imagine this body will be able to agree on much.

#3: Banning players going on loan to teams playing in the same competitions as the club that owns them.

Idiotic, simple as. Even if they don’t take into account domestic leagues, which the article is unclear about, a team would be prevented from sending a player on loan to another club if both were involved in the CL or UEFA Cup. How does this better the game, or the players involved?

#4: Preventing European clubs from signing players who are still owned by agents or companies.

Ah, the Tevez and Mascherano loophole. This is seemingly accounted for in the FA’s laws, with West Ham under investigation over the aforementioned players, but extending this European-wide, where it will have more of an effect in Spain and Italy, can only be more helpful in stamping out corruption and some of the seedier corporate aspects of the game.

#5: Backing the introduction of a rule where clubs can only spend a percentage of their turnover on player wages and transfers.

First step to a “salary cap,” to incorporate some American vernacular. Obviously, certain clubs’ spending is out of control (Hi Roman!), but the pros and cons of wage restrictions are far to numerous to spell out here. On face value, it still seems too much of a constraint on how clubs want to do their business. Using a percentage of turnover is a lot smarter than a set ceiling though, given the difference in finances between say a Manchester United and a Watford.

#6: Encouraging referees to abandon matches where there is overt racist abuse.

No brainer, and I hope they’re actually serious about this in certain countries. Kick. It. Out.

Let’s hope Platini has more planned for the future, because I’m distinctly underwhelmed.

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