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The Toe Poke

Blatter out to curb Premier League spending power

FIFA president Sepp Blatter is still trying to find a way of curbing the Premier League's spending power.

Although the indications are Manchester City will fail in their efforts to lure Samuel Eto'o away from Barcelona, Blatter remains deeply troubled at the migration of talent to England.

It could be pointed out Real Madrid are the ones who have done the big spending this summer, twice smashing the world transfer fee record, first to buy Kaka, then Cristiano Ronaldo, who will cost an amazing £80million from Manchester United.

However, Blatter views the method of owning clubs in England as inherently unsatisfactory, putting the Premier League at an advantage compared to their major European counterparts.

"There are big associations, like France, Germany and Spain where there is a by-law that the owners of the club must be at least 51% from the club,'' said Blatter. "They must be members of the club or partners from the same country. This does not exist in the Premier League and it is a problem we have to address.''

Yet Blatter is currently at a loss as to how exactly he will achieve his aims, given UK law will not be changed to implement the same ownership rules that exist in other countries.

"We have no right to interfere in economic movements,'' he admitted. "We, the whole FIFA family, is aware of this. We have spoken before about financial fair play. Financial fair play is not only a licensing system and financing control but financing fair play means also that all participants should observe a minimum of fair play.''

Blatter's comments are unlikely to have much of an effect on City's summer recruitment drive.

Yet the return of Mark Hughes from his summer holiday on Tuesday evening might be spoiled by confirmation that Eto'o intends to see out the remaining year of his contract at Barcelona.

While Barca are keen to push through the "stratospheric offer'' City have made the Cameroon star given he could leave for nothing next summer and will miss a month of next term at the African Nations Cup, it seems Eto'o will resist a £25million deal that could see him net £200,000-a-week.

The situation will be clarified tomorrow when Eto'o's agent Josep Maria Mesalles holds a press conference to outline the 28-year-old's intentions.

While a decision to remain at the Nou Camp would be a disappointment for City, at least Hughes would avoid the major headache of how to keep all his attacking players happy given Eto'o would have been joining a squad that already included Roque Santa Cruz, Robinho and Craig Bellamy and to which Carlos Tevez will be free to add his name on July 1.

Having already signed Gareth Barry, Hughes' other priority is central defence, although he might have to increase his £15million valuation on Joleon Lescott if he is to lure the Everton defender away from Goodison Park.


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