Sunday, May 18, 2008

Platini vows to bring Glazers' debt laden regime to book...

UEFA chief Michel Platini has stated his intention to stop heavily debt laden clubs from competing in Europe. If the former European & World footballer of the year gets his way, in future all clubs will need to demonstrate that they are operating on a level playing field by balancing their books - failure to do so will mean that they will not be granted a license to play in European competitions.

It comes as no surprise that Manchester United are currently way out on top of the unofficial world club debt league, following the Glazer family's debt led acquisition. Real Madrid, Liverpool and Arsenal also feature in the top half of the table.

Platini's grand plan will find some support from within the ranks of the disenfranchised United fans who have been priced out following their beloved club, due to the ever-increasing prices at Old Trafford.

However, there will also be those who question the reasoning behind what could be viewed a UEFA led moral crusade against what is largely an elite list of English clubs, especially given that Real Madrid have dominated Europe while at the same time their financial mismanagement has been largely ignored by UEFA.

Platini and his allies claim is that this group of all powerful clubs have been winning while at the same time building huge sums of debt, but it could be even argued that isn't strictly true in a European sense as when United and Liverpool won the Champions League they were both debt free. In the case of Liverpool, there hasn't even been a huge investment in the team.

As far Manchester United are concerned, we have the dubious honour of being recently named as the richest and at the same the most laden of them all. However, United's debts have reportedly been transferred back on to Red Football, the Glazers' investment vehicle used to acquire the Red Devils.

Given that United could have annual operating profit even with their debts, any UEFA ruling on licensing would seem on the face of it be hugely complicated. United could potentially be penalised because of the financial largesse of their parent company. Would such a licensing scheme be even legal?

It's also questionable how popular such an idea would be surely the clubs themselves would have to approve such a proposal. Earlier this year the powerful G14 was disbanded following an agreement by FIFA and UEFA to pay compensation to clubs following injuries to players.

This latest threat from Platini will no doubt lead to some of those former G14 members thinking that disbanding wasn't such a good idea after all. However, the G14 will be replaced by the recently formed European Club Association which has 103 member clubs.

It is being reported that Bayern Munich's vice-president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has been busily campaigning to get Platini to bring about an end to the current situation whereby clubs are seen to be winning while at the same time building huge sums of debt.

Ironically, Rummenigge will also be the first chairman of the new formed ECA, so at least Platini will have at least one powerful ally. On the flip side, even the suggestion of a Champions League minus Manchester United, Real Madrid, Arsenal and Liverpool seems frankly crazy and to even suggest it could eventually lead to another Platini idea consigned to the waste basket.

Michel Platini is seemingly in danger of fast becoming the most well intentioned but least effective administrator of them all, but in fairness, he has some way to go to over-take Sep Blatter on that score.

Full story.

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