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English football has an unlikely ally in Platini; ON UEFA AND THE EU offthe FENCE.

Byline: Ben Thornley

THERE'S nothing Michel Platini likes more than a bad idea - except for knocking English football.

Both qualities are mandatory for any one wishing to govern European or world football, of course.

Yet even Anglophobe Platini is distancing himself from French president Nicholas Sarkozy's plans to centralise control of European sport, which will today be discussed by European sports ministers in Biarritz, France.

That alone should tell Sarkozy - he's that French politician bloke that's married to the stunning Carla Brunei - that he's on to a stinker.

The crux of his proposals is the establishment of a super regulator, which would govern all sport in the EU. It would strip domestic governing bodies, such as the FA and the Premier League, of their powers over finance, transfer policy and the training of young players.

TV money would be pooled between all countries and it would even have the power to dictate what time games kick off.

This super-regulator would be based on the French model, the Direction Nationale du Controle de Gestion (DNCG).

Yet another reason why Sarkozy should realise his plans are ill-conceived.

The DNCG - a bunch of French lawyers and accountants - are responsible for making Ligue 1 the second dullest and least competitive in Europe after Moldava. Lyon, the French title holders have won the crown seven times on the bounce.Moldova has had the same champions, Sheriff Tiraspol, for the last eight years.

That is hardly the level playing field or fair competition Platini and Sarkozy have spoken of.

For Sarkozy to hold this body up as an example for European sport is outrageous arrogance. Who would ever have thought the French could be accused of that?

It is financial regulations of the DNCG which has made French football so uncompetitive in Europe. Their solution is to impose a similar system on Europe.

While the president has not mentioned English football or the Premier by name, it is clear who he has in his sights.

He, like so many of his country's leaders before him, wants to stick it to the Roast beefs.

It's surely no coincidence either that Bernard Laporte - the former France rugby coach who once declared that most people hated the English - is Sarkozy's sports minister.

The fear of English clubs is that the FA and British government are so focused on securing votes for their 2018World Cup bid that they fail to stand their ground.

Platini, though, who got the ball rolling in the first place, has now emerged as an unlikely ally of the Premier League.

This week the Uefa president has spoken of the importance of autonomy in sport.

He also recognises that many of the proposalswould be illegal under EU law, such as the six plus five rule, which would limit the number of foreign players a manager could field.

Platini, however, should not be trusted. He still wishes to impose greater financial transparency in European football and may use Sarkozy's crazy blueprint as a means to force his own plans through as a compromise.

CAPTION(S):

Nicholas Sarkozy; Michel Platini
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 28, 2008
Words:512
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