BRUSSELS - The European Union's top sports regulator said he did not oppose UEFA chief Michel Platini's plan to cap wages and transfer fees, adding he was ready to help find a compromise with those opposed to the idea. Several of Europe's leading clubs said they did not support salary caps and the English Premier League said it opposed any European-wide financial regulation of sport. Some clubs said Platini's plans could face opposition from Brussels if they contradicted the EU's strict internal market and competition rules, leading to costly legal action at the European Court of Justice. "I think it is very important sport cares about the fairness, equity and sustainability of the competitions. Balance between income and output is beneficial," EU sports commissioner Jan Figel told Reuters in an interview on Friday. "From a practical point of view, or legal point of view, these issues are for self regulatory bodies (UEFA), it is not for the Commission." Figel, however, said the Commission would need the full details of Platini's proposals before it could make a final decision. Platini said this week that, under his proposals, clubs would not be allowed to spend more than 50 to 60 percent of revenue on wages and buying players. FINANCIAL INVESTMENT Revenue would be classed as money received from ticket sales, sponsorship, merchandise and television income. It would not include any financial investment by owners or major shareholders. Figel said he was willing to facilitate an agreement between the European Club Association (ECA), which represents 137 leading teams such as Manchester United and Real Madrid, and the leagues to find a solution and avoid future court action. "I don't think there is need for the Commission to interfere ... but we stay ready to provide assistance, legal advice and in any other ways, to reach a compromise," Figel said. He said such negotiations could take place "within the EU's professional football dialogue committee", a body set up last year by the Commission with senior representatives from UEFA, ECA, the European Professional Football Leagues and the players union FIFPRO. Figel also said he was willing to discuss Platini's proposal to scrap all international transfers of players in Europe under the age of 18. "The overall prohibition is from age 16 since 2001 so the window between 16 and 18 needs further discussion," he said. Platini said an increase in the age limit is needed to fight the rising number of young players, notably from Africa and Latin America, being trafficked through Europe.
20 February 2009
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