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Sep 5, 2012

Premier League clubs in landmark meeting

Premier League chairmen and chief executives are to hold talks over the financial future of the division at the quarterly shareholders' meeting on Thursday.

A significant number are keen to introduce self-imposed Financial Fair Play rules to ensure spiralling wages and agent fees do not threaten the existence of clubs in the English top flight, with more than half currently running at a loss.

An insider told ESPN on Wednesday night ahead of the landmark meeting: "The chairmen have been talking about this and have asked for it to be top of the agenda at the first shareholders' meeting of the new season.

"A report is sure to be presented to the chairmen of a detailed breakdown of how much the clubs pay for their footballing staff, and the possibility of a mean average being used as a limit for spending on players, managers, coaches and football staff is sure to be looked at very closely.

"The idea of bringing in Financial Fair Play to the Premier League is under consideration - it happens in Europe, it happens in the Football League, and now the chairmen have to decide whether to ensure that clubs no longer run at a loss and run at a risk."

There is unlikely to be a vote on Thursday, but it is expected that there will be a significant step forward in formulating more detailed proposal and sanctions.

Manchester City are concerned about introducing new rules and the scale of punishment for those that fail to abide by them, but Manchester United appear to be in support of the measures, with chief executive David Gill telling The Times last week: "It will be a very good debate. A lot of clubs would be happy to have Financial Fair Play regulations as laid down by UEFA.

"There has to be a consensus and the clubs have to agree on what is good for the Premier League. Without doubt, enough income is coming in to the Premier League to ensure that clubs don't lose money in my opinion."

Behind the new move is the new influx of TV cash coming into the game next season, with clubs determined that the extra funding does not simply serve to escalate payments to players and agents.

Several Premier League chairmen - including Stoke's Peter Coates, West Ham's David Sullivan and Wigan's Dave Whelan - have already spoken to ESPN to voice their support for the plans.

Phillip Beard, chief executive of QPR, also told ESPN: "We are always keen to listen to what the other clubs are trying to achieve, particularly those clubs who have been in the Premier League longer than we have.

"What I do like about the Premier League is that for any decisions to be ratified it requires 14 clubs to vote to agree to change, and that is sensible, although it does mean quite a few decisions can be short circuited. However, it is clear that everybody wants to find a route to run football in a sensible business way."

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