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Feb 18, 2009

Platini continues fight against big spenders

UEFA president Michel Platini has revealed that European football's governing body has accelerated discussions over a salary cap because of the "astronomical bids" of a noveau riche club, believed to be Manchester City, during the January transfer window.

City's Abu-Dhabi investors made an incredible £100m bid for AC Milan star Kaka last month, in addition to offering wages of £250,00 per week, and Platini warned that football could "financially implode" unless a way to limit the "outrageous and scandalous" expenditure of Europe's richest clubs can be found.

"During this year's festive season, one club which had suddenly become very rich made various astronomical bids in the transfer market," Platini said. "Of course, there was a tremendous outcry in the football family, people called it outrageous and scandalous."

"Is it morally acceptable to offer such sums of money for a single player? Many people have responded by talking about limiting players' wages by introducing a European salary cap."

Manchester City, who fell into the hands of the Abu Dhabi United Group in September last year, have received sustained criticism because their ambitious, big money moves in the transfer market have put a few noses out of joint. The new owner's first move was to set a new British transfer record of £32.5m to beat Chelsea to the signing of Real Madrid forward Robinho.

Platini's thinly veiled attack follows on from comments made by FC Copenhagen boss Ståle Solbakken who claimed City were "destroying football" as he stirred things up ahead their UEFA Cup clash in Denmark on Thursday night.

The UEFA president seems to agree and has been an outspoken critic of the frivolous spending by Europe's elite clubs - much of which is based on borrowed credit or the personal spending of wealthy benefactors - and insists it is the clubs themselves who have requested financial sanctions.

But earlier this month, the European Club Association which represents 137 leading teams such as Manchester United and Real Madrid, said it did not support the introduction of salary caps.

"'European clubs are currently telling us that our system is in danger of financially imploding in the medium term," Platini told the European parliament in Brussels.

"In consultation with them, but also, I should remind you, spurred on by the reports of this parliament, we are currently looking at the idea of limiting, to a certain degree, a club's expenditure on staff - salary and transfer fees combined - to an as yet undecided percentage of its direct and indirect sporting revenue."

The 53-year-old added: 'For the past 15 or 20 years, we have grown tired of hearing that there is no need to regulate, that the market regulates itself perfectly, that excesses and imbalances will disappear of their own accord, and that the growth of income in football is an endless upward spiral.

"We now know that none of this is true: that in football as in the economy in general, the market is incapable of correcting its own excesses, and it was not the UEFA president who said so, it was (United States president) Barack Obama."

Platini stressed this was "only the beginning of the discussion" and any legislation limiting spending would only come into force "on a consensual basis and with a view to strengthening this system".

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