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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Latest Football News

FIFA president Blatter pushes for foreign limits - May 27, 2008

Fifa president Sepp Blatter continues to champion his controversial 'six-plus-five' rule, despite fierce opposition, and is targeting having it in place by the 2012-13 season.
Sepp Blatter, in Sydney for Fifa's annual congress, said rules restricting the number of foreign players that any club can field at any one time could be in place from the start of the 2010-11 season, beginning with a four-plus-seven quota and progressing to six-plus-five by 2012-13.

And Blatter is now claiming that the plan has the backing of key European delegates.

The Swiss football politician cited the Premier League's dominance in this season's Champions League as a reason why Fifa 'must implement' the idea, despite legal opposition from the European Union and Uefa boss Michel Platini.

Insisting that Fifa would proceed "within the limits of the law", Blatter said: "It's to make sure that there is better balance in the competitions and not only three or four teams in a league of 18 or 20 are fighting to be the champion and all the others are just there to not be relegated.

"As (Newcastle United manager) Kevin Keegan recently said: 'I can only start my season to fight to be fifth or sixth or seventh. It is impossible for me to go into the final four'.

"At the end of the Champions League in Europe you have in the quarter-finals four teams of the same association; in the semi-finals three of these teams.

"Then in the final you are surprised that you have two teams of the same association?

"We want to bring some remedies and this is the six-plus-five rule's objective."

Blatter came out of two days of discussions by Fifa's executive committee convinced that the proposal would be accepted when the congress votes on it later this week.

"The executive committee unanimously supported the proposed resolution concerning the six-plus-five rule," he said.

"We've had confirmation by all the confederations, including Europe, that everybody favours the objectives of the six-plus-five.

"I'm convinced, now the confederations are in favour of such a proposed solution, it is a possibility.

"But we should do it not (with) confrontation but in discussions to try and find a solution.

"We would start, step by step, with four plus seven in 2010 and then 2011 five (plus six), then 2012 six (plus five)."

Blatter added: "We've just seen Manchester United's starting XI in Moscow with six players eligible for the English team on the pitch. And they won. Not bad."

Liverpool chief Parry: Board knows squad additions needed - May 27, 2008

Liverpool chief Rick Parry says the board accepts Rafa Benitez's squad needs to improve if they're to become serious title challengers.

He told "We have to look back, learn and build for next season when the Premier League title will again be a priority target.

"We said back in February that despite the off field issues we needed to focus on a busy and important game schedule. The players did this and we qualified for next season's Champions League with games to spare.

"As ever, we now begin to concentrate on further improving the squad for next year. We have to be real contenders. The points gap has narrowed but it's still not enough.

"We have the nucleus of a very good team and now we must build on that during the summer break."

Liverpool boss Benitez: No chance of Torres sale - May 27, 2008
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez says there's no chance of selling Fernando Torres to Chelsea this summer.
He said: "The situation is very simple - we do not want to sell Fernando Torres.
"If a player does a good job for his team, like Fernando has for us, then it is sometimes easy for people to speculate that he might be wanted by other clubs.
"I am not aware of any offer being made by Chelsea but even if there was my answer would be the same - he is not for sale.
"We are trying to add to the spine of our team and that means keeping players like Fernando, Javier Mascherano, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher."

Ronaldo won't leave Man Utd out of Fergie loyalty - May 27, 2008

Cristiano Ronaldo won't skip out on Manchester United this summer, it has been revealed.

It is understood that Ronaldo still feels he owes United manager Sir Alex Ferguson for the education he has received at Old Trafford and, in particular, for the manner in which Ferguson helped him recover from his own personal nadir of the 2006 World Cup.

Ronaldo returned to England as a hate figure after playing a part in Wayne Rooney's sending-off in the Portugal versus England quarterfinal and was on the point of leaving until Ferguson talked him round.

"Cristiano does feel that he owes Sir Alex very much," said a source close to the player yesterday. "He loves the club but in particular he feels he owes so much to the manager."

Man Utd get official with Real Madrid over Ronaldo - May 27, 2008

Manchester United have gone official, declaring they're ready to take Real Madrid to FIFA over their public pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Premier League and European champions issued a statement this evening describing their "growing irritation" at continuing comments seemingly emerging from the Spanish club concerning their interest in the Portugal attacker.

The statement, released on their website,, said: "Manchester United has watched with growing irritation the comments attributed to Real Madrid over their alleged desire to sign Cristiano Ronaldo.

"The facts are: the player is on a long-term contract and his registration is held by Manchester United; The player is not for sale.

"The club will have no alternative but to report Real Madrid to the world governing body, FIFA, if it continues to behave in this totally unacceptable fashion. These public attempts to unsettle the player are completely against the regulations and the club will not tolerate them any longer.

"In addition, the club is certain that they are a distraction for the Portuguese national squad as they prepare for the European Championships. No one should be in any doubt that Manchester United will do everything in its power to keep its best players."

Fabio Capello thinks Frank Lampard is called "John Lampard"

Wages erode Premier League cash

Unlike their captain, wages at Chelsea have not slipped
Premier League clubs are spending a greater proportion of their cash on wages than ever before, a report into football finances has found.

The revenues of top-flight English sides topped £1.5bn for the first time in the 2006/7 season, Deloitte said.

But the ratio of footballers' wages to turnover hit its highest level since the league began in 1992.

Pursuing on-pitch success meant clubs spent on players to the detriment of their finances, the report said.

Only eight of the 20 Premier League clubs recorded an operating profit in 2006/7 - half the number which did so a year earlier.

However, strong English representation in the Champions League - with three semi-finalists in successive years - suggested that quality in the Premier League was continuing to improve, it added.

Chelsea - £132.8m (£114m)
Manchester Utd - £92.3m (£85.4m)
Arsenal - £89.7m (£82.9m)
Liverpool - £77.6m (£68.9m)
Newcastle Utd - £62.4m (£52.2m)
(2005/6 wages in brackets)
Source: Deloitte

In detail: Premier League wages

'Sustainable level'

Wages paid by top-flight English sides grew by 13% from the previous season to £969m

One club, Reading, saw its wage bill more than double, while Portsmouth and West Ham United spent 49% and 41% more respectively on paying their players. Chelsea had the highest wage bill, totalling £132.8m

Spending was partly driven by the arrival of a new three-year broadcasting deal - worth £1.7bn - which began in August last year.

Click here to see the wages of the Big Five leagues
This will propel Premier League revenues for the 2007/8 season to about £1.9bn, the report estimated.

"A number of clubs essentially spent some of the money on new players and wages in advance," said one of the report's authors, Deloitte's Alan Switzer.

"They knew the broadcast revenue was coming so it was acceptable to do so, but what would be more worrying would be if clubs' wage bills increased even more significantly in coming years."

The wages-to-turnover ratio hit 63%, up from 62% in 2005/6 and 48% in 1996/7, though Mr Switzer said this was "still at a sustainable level".

"Wages will have gone beyond £1bn for the season which has just ended. It will be interesting to see what happens next, and how high they will go."

'Trophy assets'

Much of the investment has been at clubs which have seen new owners at the helm, said Dan Jones, a partner in Deloitte's sports business group.

Arsenal's matchday revenue grew 105% to £91m in its first season at the Emirates Stadium
Premier League gross spending on transfers was £492m
The top four spenders in the Championship (Sunderland, Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion and Derby County) occupied the top four league spots
Source: Deloitte

However, the failure of clubs to produce a strong bottom line suggested that club owners might not have a "real desire" to make significant profits.

"The improvement in cost control which would demonstrate a normal business culture of maximising profitability does not appear to be happening at Premier league clubs," he said.

"It seems that, as in prior decades, we are seeing football clubs treated as 'trophy assets', except with clubs now owned by billionaires from a range of nationalities rather than local businessmen made good, reflecting the global appeal of the game."

Bolton Wanderers - 75%
Middlesbrough - 76.3%
Blackburn Rovers - 76.8%
Wigan Athletic - 76.9%
Sunderland - 89%
Figure relates to average % of stadium filled for home games
Source: Deloitte

The "key strategy" to making money for the club was in selling it on by building up a brand value, he added, "rather than a more tangible ongoing measure such as profitability".

Elsewhere in Europe, the top flight of the French, Italian and Spanish leagues saw about the same proportion of turnover being spent on wages as in the Premier league.

However in Germany, only 45% of income went on salaries.

The Bundesliga had the highest operating profit margin in Europe, the report said, at 18%.

Chelsea - (£620m)
Manchester Utd (£605m)
Arsenal - (£268m)
Fulham - (£182m)
West Ham Utd (£142m)
Figures are total debt at end of 2006/7 season
Source: Deloitte

This was helped by Germany having Europe's highest average attendances - with fans drawn by the continent's lowest ticket prices.

However the report noted that "the price of Bundesliga's clubs' very good financial performance seems to be a struggle to reach the latter stages of European club competition in recent years".