Platini applaudes Premier League quota plans

BRUSSELS - UEFA president Michel Platini backs plans by the English Premier League to bolster its financial regulations and set a quota of locally trained players for its clubs, his chief advisor told Reuters on Friday. European football's top official has been highly critical of the world's richest league, saying it could financially implode from the worst financial crisis since World War Two if clubs did not address their soaring levels of debt.

Platini has also criticised the high number of foreign players being bought by England's top clubs and the lack of domestic talent being developed.

"The Premier League plans are more convergent with Michel Platini's ideas. He finds them very interesting and applaudes the move," advisor William Gaillard said.

"It is not for us to tell people at national level what they are supposed to do. We do not pretend to impose on them our solutions, but their (Premier League) new solutions converge with ours."

Under pressure from UEFA, world body FIFA and the British government, the Premier League said last week it plans to tighten financial regulations, notably toughening rules on who can own or invest in a club and curb its high levels of debt.

English clubs have amassed debts of around three billion pounds with nearly a third of that owed by the top four, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, sparking criticism from lawmakers and politicians.


The Premier League also announced it was considering imposing a so-called "home-grown player rule" to boost English talent, similar to the regulation imposed by UEFA on clubs in its competitions such as the Champions League.

Under such a rule, a club must have a quota of players of locally trained players in its squad, but without any discrimination on nationality or passport.

"We are all singing from the same hymn sheet because we are all facing the same challenges," Gaillard said.

Platini has also said England's top league was becoming predictable, dominated by the same four or five clubs each season. Three English clubs have competed in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the past two seasons.

"Our competitions and the Premier League are becoming quite issue we have to tackle quickly," Gaillard said.

"We have to prevent people getting bored with the game. These kind of new rules can help bring about a more level playing field."

The Premier League plans, submitted to the country's sports minister last week, also include stricter rules on the transfer of players under the age of 18, something Platini has campaigned for.

The former French international wants a pan-European ban on transfers of players under the age of 18 to help bolster domestic leagues, boost youth development and combat the growing number of young players being transferred to Europe, notably from Africa and South America.

Currently, the minimum age in Europe for player transfers is 16 to meet EU labour laws, but the EC said it was willing to consider UEFA's proposal.