New UEFA Proposals for Interference in Soccer

UEFA has long been proposing measured clearly aimed at curbing the recent European prominence of English soccer clubs. Proposals limiting the number of overseas players and limiting foreign ownership have been mooted in the past, although thankfully both are unworkable given EU common market regulations. The latest proposal is that soccer clubs should not be allowed to be the beneficiaries of generous benefactors such as Roman Abramovich, Jack Walker or the Middle Eastern owners of Manchester City.

Michel Platini has generally been the source of these measures, and appears to be fairly well known for his anti-English sentiment – so much so that he felt obliged to defend himself recently on this count.

Platini notes that “It’s mainly the owners that asked us to do something – Roman Abramovich, (AC Milan’s) Silvio Berlusconi, (Inter Milan’s) Massimo Moratti. They do not want to fork out from their pockets any more.” Manchester United apparently also welcome the idea, although where they’d hide that £500m debt I’m not entirely sure. Of course the big teams welcome it – it would grant them protection from the likes of Manchester City and other upstarts threatening the established order. Italian clubs are bound to be onside given the precarious nature of their finances, and their poor performance in Europe in the last decade relative to their glorious 1990s.

Platini’s suggestion is that clubs can get outside funding to buy players, but that any debt must be repaid within two years. Otherwise clubs must buy players from revenues generated. Which of course means that clubs generating great revenues (those already successful) will continue to attract the best players, and the uncompetitive nature of European soccer leagues will persist.

My two-penneth on the matter is that squad sizes (rosters) should be limited in order to foster competition. Of course this introduces distortion into the market, like imposing some restriction on the inventory companies can hold, but it seems more likely to address the current dominance of top clubs in European soccer leagues.

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