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UEFA – is there a chance of reform?

So here we are – for the second time in a couple of days an Arsenal player has been injured playing in a pathetic pointless international.  VP is out, and now Gibbs.  Will it ever end?

So it seems an appropriate time to consider one of the two organisations that seek to destroy our enjoyment: UEFA.

Former Supporters Direct Chairman Brian Lomax has been appointed to UEFA’s new club financial control panel.

Lomax recently stepped down after four years as chair of the SD
organisation that advises fans on how to gain representation at board
level at their clubs across the UK and Europe – with groups in 14
countries across Europe.

The SD said, “The hope is that this committee is going to be one of the most important in European football, and for someone to be appointed from a background in the supporters’ trust movement is a fantastic vote of confidence in the movement from UEFA, and underlines their real commitment to serious engagement with supporters in general.”

According to the data collected by UEFA, 50% of the European clubs are making a loss.

The idea now is to implement a new series of ” FFP rules” which will aim to improve financial fairness and long term financial stability of club football – something that (and here I quote from the SD press release) “is a key a UEFA priority”.

With the new FFP rules UEFA wants to:

* Encourage clubs to compete within their revenues;
* Decrease pressure on player’s salaries and transfer fees and limit
inflationary effect;
* Encourage clubs’ long term investments (infrastructure, youth) to the
detriment of short term spending;
* Protect the sustainability of European club football as a whole

Now let us pause (and this is me writing here, not the SD), and look at UEFA and what it is and is not doing…

UEFA is

* Doing nothing to encourage clubs to compete with their revenues.  There has been zero action in relation to Chelsea and Manchester City, who are both funded by people with obscene levels of wealth.  There has been no action on the spending of Liverpool and Manchester United, whose debts are so overwhelming that neither can meet their obligations (Liverpool unable to pay back the banks, Man U unable to pay the interest due on their loans).
* Doing nothing to decrease or limit salaries or transfer fees
* Doing nothing to encourage clubs such as Arsenal which now has a 10 year history of investment in youth, and probably does more than any single club world-wide to locate the best young talent in the world and offer this talent the best training facilities in the world
* Doing nothing to protect the sustainability of European club football as a whole, in that by allowing existing rules to continue it has encouraged more and more clubs in the EPL to take on greater and greater debt in a desperate attempt to stay in the EPL.  Likewise it has refused to investigate the financing of Real Madrid.  Likewise it has not even moved over the fact that no one knows who owns Leeds United – except that it is someone in the Virgin Islands.  Likewise it has done nothing regarding the ownership of Notts County or Portsmouth, nor the insane disregard in the UK of the fit and proper person’s rule.

Instead what UEFA is doing is this

a) Attempting to use nationalistic lines to define who may and may not play in certain teams on the unedifying grounds that a person is somehow different if he/she was born on one side of a border or another.  They totally reject the notion that while it is right to protest that we are all the same irrespective of the colour of our skin, so we are all the same irrespective of which bit of the map we or our parents were born in.

b) Encouraging players to play more and more games including pointless friendlies between countries in which players can and are seriously injured

c) Encouraging the ever greater increase in the destruction of the environment by allowing teams to play pointless friendlies all over the world, and arranging international tournaments without any compensatory environmental programmes.

d) Encouraging the consumption of unsuitable food through liaison deals with burger making companies and chocolate snack companies – deals which are at the heart of all of their international tournaments.

e) Bringing the game into disrepute by allowing individuals who are materially involved in matches (such as SFA officials) call for one off interpretations of rules to the detriment of individual players such as Eduardo and their clubs.

f) Refusing to work to apply the same refereeing standards across the whole of country.

g) Undermining the rule of law within the EU by endlessly attempting to introduce anti-employment regulations which would fly in the face of the very fundamentals of the Union and would by-pass the elected officials who represent the wishes of the people in the largest democratic system in the world.  Platini himself has openly opposed the law in the EU and separate laws within the United Kingdom by saying he wants to have rules that would stop Arsenal training non-English players.

h)  Promote the insane 6+5 rule which again returns us to nationalistic regulations through which players who have no relationship with a country suddenly become counted as part of that country because they choose to do so for their own convenience.  As this site has shown repeatedly, it is quite possible for someone who has never set foot in England, and whose parents and grandparents were not born or brought up in England, and in fact were not even resident at any time within the EU, to play for England.

I could go on, but I probably don’t have any readers left now anyway.  Sorry – just a one-off.  This whole UEFA thing annoys me a bit.

To answer my question – is there a chance of reform?   Supporters Direct, I wish you every bit of luck.   But you have what one might call, an uphill task.

Arsenal Supporters’ Trust: http://www.arsenaltrust.org/

MAKING THE ARSENAL: The novel that describes the foundation of the modern Arsenal 100 years ago is available through www.emiratesstadium.info and via Amazon.  However Amazon appear to have sold out of their copies already, and are showing “waiting for stock” again.  You can get quick delivery from the above link – and have the book signed by the author if you want.   We have sent Amazon more stock – and if you are on their site, please do review the book because people read reviews.

WOOLWICH ARSENAL: The day to day activities – and the fight for survival – of our club 100 years ago, recorded on the daily blog: www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk (Incidentally, in answer to a point made on goal.com where they asked if it is right that a team in London should not even have an Englishman playing, let alone a Londoner, the answer is, this is how football started at the Arsenal.  Woolwich Arsenal often played with no Englishmen in their team.   You might not like it, but that’s how the system started – so all we are doing is maintaining a long and honorable tradition).

(c) Hamilton House Mailings plc 2009.  This article may not be reprinted in whole or part without written permission of the copyright owners and full acknowledgment of the author and UNTOLD ARSENAL.  All enquiries to Tony@Hamilton-House.com or call (during UK office hours) 01536 399 013.

11 comments to UEFA – is there a chance of reform?

  • don't believe the hype

    Really interesting article Tony, once again exposing the hypocrisy of UEFA. It’s all lip service, nothing will come of it.

  • Paul C.

    Simple answer – Yes, there is but ONE chance of reform.

    That single chance is if the top clubs themselves get pissed off enough at UEFA and their dictatorial outlook on things and actually push through a Euro Super League, in the same way that the Premiere League circumvented the FA in the 90’s. Only then would the top clubs be able to hold UEFA over a barrel and say “now, we are going to start doing things right”. Unfortunately there are a few big clubs such as Real Madrid and Chelsea that will fight tooth and nail against a Euro Super League (it would be properly regulated and revenues would be shared, thereby decreasing those clubs competitive advantage) and most fans of non-“BIG” clubs hate the idea of a Super League, since it would lessen the importance of international football, which is far more important to fans of Oxford and Norwich than it is to fans of Arsenal and Manchester United.

    Because of that, I think it will still be a while until there is any chance of reform.

  • walter

    And let me ad to your excellent article Tony the following thougths on that committee that should apply those financial fair rules.
    The president would be JL Dehaene, our former prime minister for many years in my country. When I heard his name I was disgusted. He was a man who always said: we dont anticipate up on problems, we just try to arrange something when we are faced with a problem. After a few years as prime minister he got nicknamed: the plumber because he always was running behind the problems and putting a finger on a leak and closing it and then found out that there was another leak, and another, and another…
    His governement was renown for always complicating solutions who never pleased everybody but it was a solution and regarded as better then no solution.
    So when his name was mentionned my first reaction was: how can this plumber change anything as he never changed anything in a country for all these years as prime minister ? He was a man with no spine and in my opninion you need someone who will not be affraid to say: team X, you’re out. No he will be trying to find a way to let them participate anyway by bending the rules.
    If the rules are clear at the start within one year the rules will be bended to the likings of the biggest shouters.
    So I have no hope that things are going to change.

    If it happens like I said above, I will be gladly to write an article and slice him to peaces.

  • walter

    The only hope I do have about JL Dehaene is that he is a very passionate fan of Club Brugge (one of the top teams in Belgium) and if he could get the financial rules applied strictly it will mean that Belgium clubs like Club Brugge hava more chance to have succes in Europe like some 20 years ago.

  • Meandering off topic Walter (and I wrote the article so I am allowed) how come a town as small as Bruges seems to have 2 teams – if I am right it has Club Brugge and Circle Brugge – or are they different places and I am confused?

    I went to Bruges (now I am getting confused on spelling) for 3 days about 4 years ago and found it one of the most wonderful places I have ever been. Everything was brilliant from the canal to the restaurants, the horse drawn carriage (I know, just a tourist thing but we loved it) to simply walking around/… the museum and art gallary – the only place in the world I have found a shop selling a t-shirt of Guernica which sadly I then got a mark on and can’t really wear any more but I keep…..

    Oh, and I should be writing about football.

    Gibbs is crocked.

  • Back to the story – about ownership of clubs which UEFA just shrug big shoulders at…

    Grandtop own Birmingham City (I know the papers and TV say it is Mr Yeung but that is not true – on this one I am going to stick my neck out and say they are quite wrong).

    The question is who owns Grandtop. Not Mr Yeung. Grandtop is mostly owned by Winning Top International Overseas and another company called Genuine Ocean International Trading.

    And guess where Winning Top and Genuine Ocean are registered.

    Not Bruges.

    But the Virgin Islands – the country where no details of any financial ownership of any company is ever revealed. So now we have Leeds, and Birmingham both owned there, we have Notts County that could be owned by anyone under the sun, ditto Portsmouth.

    For once the chant, “Who are you” when directed at clubs, is going to be meaningful.

  • walter

    To give you the off topic answer Tony,
    Bruges is really a nice town. In fact I believe the whole old town is somewhat protected and should be kept in the original state as much as possible. A part of my family lives there.
    Indeed 2 clubs for not a big city. The origins lies in the foundings. Cercle, the smallest club, was founded by the richer catholics (the noble French speaking elite). Cercle is the French for circle in the meaning of a group of persons. Club was more the common people club. Club is the more succesfull of the 2 by far. My father in law, who comes from Ypres also in West Flanders – very well known in Engeland I guess these days, supports them but not fanatical.
    The spelling in Flemish is Brugge and we speak it with a short “u” and in English the “u” is pronounced longer. To make it even more difficult in Brugge the people pronounce it as “Bruhhe”. For some reason the people in West Flanders pronounce their G as an H and vice versa.
    Now this goes way off topic I’m affraid. Sorry for this.

  • walter

    And again off topic but just to let you know that Vermaelen looked OK after yesterdays game with Belgium. He didn’t score this time. 😉

  • Jonny

    Tony, I wouldn’t worry about losing readers, I think that was one of the best and most interesting pieces you have written. Given the general standard – this is high praise indeed.

  • LRV

    Tony, This is a very excellent piece. In the beginning, I had thought that Platini, because of his playing days reputation, could do some good for European football if he could get past the hatred against the English that is sadly still consuming him. Alas instead, he added envy/Jealousy, of anything and everything to do with the English Premiership in general, and Arsene Wenger in particular, to the hatred. We all know what effect this may have. He lost all senses of value and acquired a taste for the ridiculous. He pitted his tent squarely in the round hole of mediocrity.

    So Yes, there is a chance of reform! But we need to get rid of Platini and his coteries first and foremost to have any chance of said reform.

  • goddy ochei-uzo

    Well spoken Tony. However, my main area of concern is how to stop Mr Platini from using any misguided oportunity he can find to attack Prof Arsene over his youth policy which so far is a subject of envy by all the clubs in the world. Perhaps he should use his time in office to change most things that is wrong in UEFA. Amazing to know that Messey of Barca was recruited as an underage from south America and Platini did not see any thing wrong in that or is he expressing a personal difference. If this be the case it is an abuse of office and should be taken up by all Arsenal supporters. I honestly need a responce to this as I remain a gunner 4 life.