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Britain Defeats French Threat To Premiership


Britain has fought off an attempt by France to use its rotating presidency of the European Union to impose a French-style regulatory system on British clubs. The real target was the English Premiership and the prime mover was not French president Nicolas Sarkozy or even sports minister Bernard Laporte but Uefa president Michel Platini who has made no secret of his hostility towards English football. The French plan was to establish a supranational body modelled on the French regulator, the Direction Nationale du Controle de Gestion (DCNG). It can impose fines, freeze transfers, dock points and order relegation. French football has ended up in court 76 times since 2002. Platini has suggested that running a club with a large debt is tantamount to cheating. In reality, differing capital structures and debt levels are the products of different national tax regimes, subsidy policies and very different ownership structures. Clubs in England usually own their stadiums and can borrow against a substantial asset. Continental stadiums are often provided by local authorities. After two days of argument at a summit of European sports ministers in Biarritz, the entire section relating to a possible European regulatory system was taken out of the final declaration. However, Platini will doubtless pursue his campaign by other means.