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Tuesday 24 October 2017

Platini's plan is plain silly

Alan Ruddock

Market forces are much derided these days after nigh-on three years of economic meltdown, but their effect is evident in this season's Champions League.

Michel Platini, the UEFA president, has been determined to introduce financial rules and regulations that would restrict the power of the bigger -- especially English -- clubs, because he feared their dominance would damage the game. This year six countries are represented in the last eight of the Champions League and a minimum of three countries will make it to the semi-final.

The biggest spenders have not made it while the relative minnows of the French league provide two, and a certain semi-finalist. The Italians, despite Inter's superb performance at Chelsea, are in steep decline, but for the rest there has been a levelling out.

The recession has clearly played its part by forcing discipline on clubs which would otherwise have continued to splurge, and debts, too, have acted as a brake on excess.

Arsenal, which borrowed heavily to build the Emirates Stadium, spends frugally on players; Manchester United, saddled with debts by the Glazer family, spends its cash on debt repayments, not inflated transfers. Both have made it through, both would trouble Platini's obsessions with debt and both could make the final. Platini might try to use their indebtedness to further his own narrow cause, but he would be missing the point, deliberately or not. Both clubs have used their debts very differently, and neither has used debt to buy instant success.

It is plain silly to try and devise rules that would exclude them from the Champions League.

Sunday Independent

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