A few more stories on the proposed intervention to regulate European football emerged today. The Evening Standard, a London paper, carried a story that UEFA is close to reaching agreement with EU ministers to impose a rule that clubs cannot spend more than 70% of their income on player salaries- a move intended to rein in clubs like Chelsea. Presumably this means Abramovitch’s subsidies would not be counted as income- although how such a rule could be enforced is hard to imagine. UEFA spokesperson William Gaillard was quoted as saying that regulation is necessary to ensure that at least 8-10 teams are in contention rather than two… clearly he hasn’t read the Blue Ribbon Panel or heard of a regularly recurring reasonable hope for the bottom 10-12 teams.
The temperature of the debate is rising, as the vice-chairman of Arsenal and chief executive of Chelsea stated publicly that a related plan to introduce player nationality quotas “runs right in the face of freedom of movement of workers…The courts will be very busy with it.” Meanwhile, in an article in the London Times the chief executive of the Premier League said that UEFA had no right to regulate the Premier League and that “European law has no place in the English game” (I guess the Bosman judgment and the European Commission’s 3 year antitrust investigation of EPL broadcasting rights had slipped his mind).
Stirring the pot a little more vigorously, I also noticed an article from a month ago suggesting that FIFA and the IOC are upset that UEFA is negotiating the regulation of football with the EU: “We believe that the issue of governance is of outmost importance for the sports movement and that this issue should be dealt with by sports themselves based on the principle of the autonomy of the sports movement.”
Meanwhile, UK sports minister Richard Caborn has promised that there should be an agreement between the EU and UEFA by the end of the year. But I’m not sure we’re going to see too many friendly exchanges of seasonal greetings.