Football: Platini promises tough, new anti-debt measures

PARIS, Aug 28, 2009 (AFP) - The head of European football, Michel Platini, has promised to introduce tough regulations by the 2012-2013 season that would force UEFA's clubs to spend only within their means.

Some of Europe's top clubs, including nine-times European champions Real Madrid, have accumulated huge debts during their respective campaigns for success on the field.

Real had an estimated debt of 500 million pounds (816m dollars) up to the end of the 2007-08 season, with financial experts estimating the Spanish giants will soon have a debt of around 800 million (1,306m dollars) following their summer spending spree.

Platini is a strong advocate of clubs reining in their finances and the UEFA president believes it is time to stop clubs' finances from spiralling out of control.

UEFA French president Michel Platini (L) awards Italian football player Paolo Maldini with a special award for his career during the 2009/2010 European Champions League groups stage draw on August 27, 2009, in Monaco. AFP PHOTO

Launching his "financial fair play" campaign on Thursday the Frenchman claimed he has been asked by, and won the backing of, club owners such as Chelsea's Roman Abramovich, players, leagues and national associations.

It would also mean the end of mega-rich owners, such as Manchester City's Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, making huge gifts of cash to their clubs.

In a BBC website report Platini said: "We have everyone on board with this, the owners, the players, the leagues, the national associations.

"If a club can get loans from a bank to buy players and is able to pay back bank loans then it is not a problem. But if a club gets a lot of money or subsidies from a big backer and is still in deficit in two years then it is a problem and we don't want that."

Platini said an independent panel would be created to determine whether clubs had broken the rules.

Those deemed to have infringed the rules could face expulsion from the lucrative Champions League competition.

"The panel will refer any matter to the disciplinary committee and sanctions will be taken from a reminder to a fine to expulsion from the Champions League," he said.

Top English club Chelsea reported losses of 65.7 million pounds (107m dollars) up to June last year while Red Football, the parent company of Manchester United, registered losses of 21 million pounds (34m dollars) last year and has a total debt of 575 million (938m dollars).

Platini added: "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.

"I have told Mr Abramovich about this and he said nothing against it." 

Source: AFP

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