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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 20, 2007

Euro league chiefs not convinced by Platini plan

BERNE, Switzerland, Sept 20 (Reuters) - European soccer league representatives have expressed unanimous concern about proposed changes to the format of UEFA's Champions League competition, following a meeting in Paris.

The idea of allowing domestic cup winners to join the competition at the expense of clubs who qualified from the league system was particularly worrying, European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) general manager Emanuel Medeiros told Reuters on Thursday.

"I would not like to use the word 'opposition' but none of the league representatives attending the meeting were in favour of endorsing the idea," Medeiros said.

The proposed changes have been championed by new UEFA president Michel Platini who has said he wants to open up the Champions League to a wider range of clubs.

Platini's proposals would give 16 cup winners a separate qualifying route into the Champions League and an allocation of four automatic places in the lucrative group stages.

In England, Spain and Italy the fourth qualifying spot through each league would be transferred to the cup winners.

The Switzerland-based EPFL is an umbrella group representing 25 of Europe's top professional leagues, including the English Premier League, Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga and is recognised by UEFA.

Medeiros said that representatives from more than 20 of the leagues attended Thursday's informal meeting.

"We are concerned that the changes would weaken the strength of the leagues who are the very heart of European football," Medeiros said.

"This was our first chance to discuss the proposals and I think it was clear from the meeting that everybody wishes the best for European football.

"That will not be achieved with confrontation and we are confident that Michel Platini will evaluate our concerns and allow us to discuss this openly to find common ground."

Platini's proposals have also come under fire from the G14 group of top European clubs, although Platini's special adviser William Gaillard said that only a minority of G14 clubs were strongly opposed to the changes.

"I think the majority of the clubs do not want these changes, with the possible exception of the Italian clubs," Medeiros told Reuters.

UEFA has given the EPFL until the end of October to put forward any alternative proposals.

Medeiros said three or four scenarios had already been discussed but the EPFL did not yet want to go public with the details.