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By ESPN Staff
Feb 8, 2007

Caborn urges clubs to fight corner

Sports minister Richard Caborn has warned Premier League chairmen that there are 'clouds over the horizon' that could threaten the competition's position as the best in the world.

Caborn met the chairmen and chief executives of the 20 clubs today to try to win their support for changes to sport which will be recommended by a European White Paper.

The minister said that it was important the Premier League clubs took an active part in deciding how the future governing of football within Europe should be administered.

Caborn told PA Sport: 'It was a very good meeting with a frank exchange of views and I believe they were appreciative of us going to see them.

'I told them that I was not going to do anything to ruin the best league in the world, especially after they had helped us with funding grassroots sports and helped to win the 2012 Olympics.

'I don't want to kill that, I would be mad if I did, but I am a critical friend of theirs and there are clouds over the horizon.

'They have to influence European law otherwise they are just going to find themselves presented with it.'

Caborn raised the recent wrangle between the league and the European Commission over the collective selling of TV rights as an example of how they need to influence Brussels.

He added: 'We should be able to have collective rights without this problem with the Commission and that's why it's sensible to ensure that their voice is heard in Europe.

'I told them it was the system they had to talk about, and it's about how they want to improve football to govern itself better.'

The sports minister also told the meeting that they needed to give their input into how UEFA should be changed if it is to be given more power by Brussels - a move that many within the Premier League are not happy with as they fear it will restrict their independence to make decisions.

Caborn said: 'Everyone accepts there is a need for a new UEFA and UEFA itself will have to accept that otherwise it will not get any power handed to them from the Commission.'

He also criticised the fact that the Football Association had still yet to implement the recommendations of the Lord Burns review.

The FA are in the process of holding a number of meetings about the proposed changes with county associations.

'I am deeply disappointed that it's taking such a long time to implement the Burns report,' said Caborn. 'It has been delayed yet again and without any consultation.'

The Premier League said they were pleased Caborn had made clear he wanted UEFA to reform before they were given any more powers in the running of European football.

They said in a statement: 'Clearly we don't agree on everything, but were encouraged by the minister's view that this debate should centre on achieving maximum subsidiarity for national leagues and associations.

'Mr Caborn also made it quite clear that UEFA reform and restructuring, to include league and club representation, should occur before any derogated powers are ceded to them.

'The message from the Premier League chairmen was clear: protecting the success of the English game is our first priority; we are committed to shaping the future governance of the game; and have always engaged fully and at the first opportunity.'