Platini announces agreement on TV rights

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BPARIS - UEFA has agreed to adopt centralised marketing of television rights for the region's Euro and World Cup qualifiers in a financial boost for the region's smaller federations.

UEFA president Michel Platini announced during his opening speech to European football governing body's annual conference that all 53 UEFA members had agreed to the new system.

"This project is your project and I am delighted to officially announce that, as of today, everyone, without exception, is on board." Platini told delegates.

"We have received the signatures of all 53 national associations," added the Frenchman, who was due to be elected unopposed for a another four-year term later on Tuesday.

Under the existing system, to be replaced for the Euro 2016 qualifiers, individual federations negotiate television rights for their home games.

The smaller federations said this leaves them hoping to draw a crowd-pulling team which would bring in bigger revenue, rather than weaker opposition which would mean less income but a better chance of qualifying.

It also makes financial planning more difficult.

"You will all be able to concentrate on the football, without having to worry what the draws might throw up and whether their outcome will be favourable - or not - in terms of TV rights," Platini told delegates.

"I would like to thank those national associations who have believed in it from the start and had the conviction to persuade us to follow them down this path."

ELITE PRESSURE

Platini also said he had resisted pressure to restrict the Champions League to Europe's elite clubs and that national team football would be his priority for the next four years.

"The universality of our competitions has been maintained and even reinforced, despite ever greater pressure to close the ranks of the elite and exclude the less dominant among you," he said.

"We must now do our utmost to raise the status of the national team competitions," he said. "We have a duty to restore them to their rightful place."

Platini emphasised the importance of his Financial Fair Play programme which will bar clubs from the Champions League if their generated revenue is less than their expenditure.

"Allow me to remind you of just one figure: together, Europe's professional clubs accumulated net losses of 1.2 billion euros in 2009 alone," he said.

"There is a huge amount of money in football, but more importantly there is a moral problem in the way this money is sometimes generated and used

"Financial fair play is a crucial project that will enable us to clean up certain practices within our game."

He then appealed for government help to fight hooliganism and match-fixing.

"I have started meeting the heads of state and government of countries particularly affected by this problem," he said.

"It is important that their countries realise the seriousness of the situation and that they find a way to help us, you and their national associations."