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Platini placated as English sides bow out?

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David Bond | 11:42 UK time, Thursday, 8 April 2010

Michel Platini will no doubt be feeling a bit happier today.

Ever since he was elected to the Uefa presidency three years ago, the Frenchman has been growing increasingly anxious about England's domination of European club football.

Not any more. The worry lines will be disappearing from Platini's brow quicker than it takes Wayne Rooney to recover from a dodgy ankle.

In fact, Barcelona's Champions League final triumph over Manchester United last year is increasingly looking like the moment when the balance of power shifted back to the continent.

Not since 2003 has an English side failed to make the last four - a staggering fact that demonstrates not only how powerful the Premier League had become but how the strength of the Spanish and Italian clubs had waned.

But if Platini's new financial fair play regulations - due to come into force from 2012 - were ultimately aimed at English clubs, then next month's vote by their executive committee might as well be scrapped. England's big four have already delivered on his egalitarian vision for European club football.

Uefa President Michel Platini
Platini should be pleased that England's European dominance could be at an end

Although Sir Alex Ferguson claimed the Premier League is still the best in the world in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday's exit against Bayern Munich, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was perhaps closer to the mark.

Here he is following Lionel Messi's masterclass at the Nou Camp on Tuesday evening. "You have more teams in Europe now who can compete with England, that is for sure. That was not the case two or three years ago. Real Madrid will not stay out of Europe forever. Inter Milan are coming up. One French team is in the semi-finals of the Champions League. There is more competition."

But it can't just be because Europe's grand old clubs have improved. English teams have also got weaker thanks mainly to a reduction in the amount of money they have been spending on players. They may have still spent way more than their main European rivals last summer but English clubs actually reduced their transfer spending by almost a third on the previous year - from £692m to £482m.

By way of contrast, Spain, Italy, France and Germany increased their spending on players in the summer of 2009. Spain and France doubled their expenditure while the Bundesliga's transfer outlay went up almost five fold.

And it can't be a coincidence that England's biggest spenders in 2009 - Tottenham and Manchester City - are both vying for the fourth Champions League place for next season's competition. One can only wonder whether City may fare better in Europe next season with Sheikh Mansour's vast wealth behind them.

But, as English club football gets ready for its first major European inquest for years, one man connected to the game here will have been privately pleased at the premature demise of United and Arsenal.

Another all England Champions League final is the last thing Fabio Capello would have wanted just 12 days before his squad fly to South Africa for the World Cup. Perhaps the omens for English football are not so gloomy after all.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    its funny how people can over-analyse things! bordeaux and lyon drew each other in the quarters, guaranteeing at least one french team through, barcelona drew arsenal (any team in europe would not go through against barca), and man united went out on away goals after being 3-0 up.

    so overall, to suggest that the dominance of the premierleague over europe is fading, and that the other european teams are getting better (Inter and R. Madrid apart i don't think lyon are any better than last year), is complete rubbish in my opinion. There is such think as an anomaly, and i think this year could be one for the PL teams.

    o well, at least the feeble old platini gets to celebrate this year!

  • Comment number 2.

    There is no doubt that English clubs are spending more carefully than before. Portsmouth have shown what can happen if you do not. In the current economic climate clubs cannot spend the sums they used to. Wages are disproportionately high compared to club income. Players are still going for silly money despite most other businesses pulling in their horns.

    However, I still think that British teams would have spent closer to that of previous seasons if they had had more success in attracting their targets. If Man City had spent £100m on kaka it would have beefed it up a little! There were many players who were sought after that would have costed big money (the likes of Benzema, Ribery and Melo spring to mind) but they did not choose to play here. I think the same thing may happen this season.

    English clubs have found it harder to compete with overseas clubs when trying to attract players with the pound slipping against the euro and the 50% tax on high earners.

    I think that the slipping in standards of the top clubs can be partly attributed to the difficulties they have had in attracting the top players. English clubs are having trouble attracting overseas players because of the language difficulties, the weather and the culture. How many Brazilians play in the UK? I think that the teams in warmer places with a more continental culture will always have the advantage over the English teams when attracting the best players (as they are invariably from South America or Mediteranean Europe). Indeed, when noises come out of clubs that a player wants to leave, the weather invariably gets mentioned as one of the reasons (Vidic being a recent example).

    In the past, by paying better wages and higher fees we could persuade players to come to England - but now we cannot lavish so much money on them, given the choice they follow the sun.

  • Comment number 3.

    Okay so your point is that a French man is upset that English teams are dominating a competition that has been won by Spanish teams more often than anyone else, and won as many times by Italians as English in the last ten years, and that now he is happy there is no more English teams in it. Am I right? We are talking about a man considered to be one of the greatest footballers in his time, a man who comes from a country that in the last decade was crowned world champions, european champions and made it to at least one other major final, and you are telling him he gives a hoot or not as to the supposed dominance of English teams. A dominance that in effect never existed and has been pedalled by journalists of the BBC and no one else? And you are drawing some allusion between City and Spurs finishing fourth, and the Germans beating United on away goals? Brilliant. When is the next installment coming, I am sure JK Rowling could use it for the next Harry Potter. Pure Fantasy.

  • Comment number 4.

    Rather than introduce Platini's financial fair play regulations would it not be better to ban the purchase of football clubs with borrowed money ??
    Gillet/Hicks and the Glazers have done what to Liverpool & Man United respectively ??? Nothing.. apart from take huge loans against the assetts of the clubs and provide interest free loans to members of their own families. They dont even like 'SOCCER' and are definately not interested in the progress of these clubs. These people should not be allowed to be in a position where they can seriously affect the existance of these clubs.
    It is mainly the American owners who take on these huge loans and they should all be banned.... let them stick to their own version of football on the other side of the water and leave our wondeful game to the people who love it !!!

  • Comment number 5.

    why is everything always linked to the ammount of money spent? i would have thought that man city and real madrid are fine examples of how money doesn't always buy success. also, having witnessed 1st hand both legs of arsenals defeat to barcelona, i can say with authority that their best 6 players cost them nothing and they have improved year on year through good coaching and experience. it's the same reason why arsenal have improved, through player improvement. a team rarely becomes better when it's main players are around 30yrs, hence the relative decline of chelsea and man utd

  • Comment number 6.

    And it will continue to get worse. As the tax system in the UK penalises high earners, footballers will avoid coming to play in England and players already here will start to head to the continent. Italian and Spanish teams will start growing again. Arshavin has already made his feelings known...if he knew about the 50% tax rate before signing for Arsenal, he wouldn't have moved here.

  • Comment number 7.

    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

    To take such a small timescale and assume dominance by English clubs is just silliness. Go back a few years, and its Spanish clubs, then a few more and its Italian clubs. In reality its not dominance, its temporary ascendency, followed by an inevitable but marginal, decline.
    During the English "dominance", Liverpool won a very unusual final, having been comprehensively outplayed by AC Milan for 100 minutes. Barcelona beat Arsenal, AC Milan got revenge on Liverpool beating them easily, and Barcelona again, undressed and embarrassed Manchester United.
    Now does that read dominance?
    Platini may be happy, but he is also delusional,

  • Comment number 8.

    This season is just a blip for English teams in the Champions League, next year normal order will be resumed. Everyone knows Chelsea need to rebuild, Wenger needs to splash out those supposed huge cash reserves that are available to him and what Man Utd need is abundently obvious and those three will improve next season. The other teams in the top half of the Prem have improved immensely (with the exception of Pool).

    This "decline" that the BBC seemingly think is going on is tabloid journalism and needs to stop.

  • Comment number 9.

    Two hours to moderate a comment? Brilliant.

  • Comment number 10.

    Okay it's only one hour, I am in a different time zone, but for flying keepers sake? A whole hour?

  • Comment number 11.

    I think this is true (Platini wanting English teams out of Europe) but the Premier league is not dead and buried by any means. It still holds some of the worlds finest players and some of the largest fan numbers worldwide. Money will always be there and so will the clubs. The omission of the English teams in Europe were due to poor refereeing, luck, and tough draws. Yes, all were beaten fairly but they'll be back next year fighting into the finals. Don't worry about that.

  • Comment number 12.

    "Another all England Champions League final is the last thing Fabio Capello would have wanted just 12 days before his squad fly to South Africa for the World Cup. Perhaps the omens for English football are not so gloomy after all."

    What a moot point. I'm sure in 2006, France only fell at the final hurdle as Henry, Giuly, and Pires had played the ECL final a month before.

    Likewise in 2002 when Lucio, and Roberto Carlos featured. 1998? i'm sure Zidane featured, Deschamps? 1994 Romario, vs about 6 Italians from AC milan that would make the final. 1990 - Milan again, a team cdonsisiting of many players that would help Italy reach 3rd place that summer ahead of England.

  • Comment number 13.

    CONSPIRACY!!! Look at Chelsea's semi-final last year with 5 pens not given, look at the refereeing last night (Van Bommell in particular committed far more and far worse fouls than Rafael!), and it is clear Platini has been doing his best to 'engineer' English clubs demise in this competition. Frankly, there should be an investigation as it cannot be coincidence that English clubs are on the wrong end of so many European decisions!?

  • Comment number 14.

    Domination? or making up the numbers.....

    the EPL has only won the champs league twice over the last 10 years, La liga has done it 4 times and look to add to that this year.

  • Comment number 15.

    As pointed out by other contributors, it is perhaps a little convenient to assume that no English team in the UCL semi's proves English teams are weaker and/or European teams are stronger. However Platini will almost certainly be comforted by our absence.

    The other point is the Financial Fair Play Proposal was put back to 2015 (not 2012 as stated in the article) after the clubs met in january, to allow clubs to get their houses in order. This will change the landscape of European football beyond recognition....

  • Comment number 16.

    I tend to agree with the first poster. We must not forget that this is a cup competition first and foremost, and so the odd red card (United) or a bad draw (Arsenal) or a bad performance uncharacteristic of the side (Chelsea) can see you knocked out. The more worrying thing might be that before this year, only Barcelona of the European teams had knocked out English opponents since 2007.

    I personally think that the day this turnaround started was when Liverpool beat Real Madrid 4-0, as that was the night that I believe European football realised just how dominant we were. You could say that Barca winning it was a sign of European success, but had Chelsea got one of their 4 clear penalties in the semi, we would have had a second consecutive all English final and it would have been the second season running that only English teams knocked out English teams. And since then European teams have worked on improving.

    But lets not forget that at the moment Barca are the only competitive Spanish side (Until Real get their act together in Europe), Inter are the only competitive Italian side (As shown by Fulham's defeat of Juve), Bayern are the only Germans who have done anything in Europe in many years, and Lyon are just dominant over the French contingent in Europe. We have 3 English teams who have fought at the top level and could quite easily be in that last 4

    The elephant in the room from my comment here is obviously my team, Liverpool. Our decline may be stopped by getting investment but I think City will make it a new big 4 if I am honest and they will be fighting in the later stages of the CL in seasons to come as well.

    One final thought on English decline though: An all English Europa League final is still very possible

  • Comment number 17.

    To suggest that Platini has an agenda against English clubs is petty and ridiculous. Platini like many others does not like the huge debts that English clubs have, the 2008 Champions League final between the two clubs with the biggest debt in World football highlighted his point. Platini feels it is unfair for clubs to spend money that they do not have.

  • Comment number 18.

    This kind of discussion beggars belief. If Man Utd would have gone through, I'm sure they would have dispatched Lyon over two legs and would play Barcelona again in the final. So in essence, we're basing this whole 'english football is doomed' discussion on one piece of bad defending by Michael Carrick or a poor decision by Raphael to impede Ribbery.
    I assumed BBC journalism would be better than tabloid!?... I thought wrong.

    Part of this piece is about how English clubs have spent less, ultimately leading to their early departure from the Champions League. Hmmmm, remind me how much Real Madrid (who went out to Lyon) spent last summer????

    Also, has anyone else been bored with 3 English clubs in the semi-finals? - To see the four places split between four different countries is VERY refreshing. we get bored with the same top-four in this country, so the health of the wider game is important. Would it be a worth while tournament if English teams wollaped every other team every year.

    Finally, an English team has made the semi-final in every one of the last seven years. Made the final, in every one of the last five years. The first year this run ends and journalists everywhere are predicted a 'shift in power' when all it is is just a blip......... a blip in the same year as a World Cup, thats not a bad time to have it!!

  • Comment number 19.

    What's Cappello got to be so chuffed about? How many English players played this week? Three I think and only two were certainties for RSA anyway!

  • Comment number 20.

    Interesting blog David. Having said that, i wouldn't say that English football is on the wane though. If you look at Spain, only Barce have qualified for the semi finals for the last 2 years and is the only spanish club to have won it in the last 6-7 years, whereas real madrid haven't got to the qtrs in that same period despite all the money they have spent (whilst also building up a vast debt in the process) and in this season, only Barce made it into the qtrs.

    Germany, teams have spent 5 fold more than english clubs (though most of that has been Bayern) and they scraped past on away goals past Foirentina and Man Utd. And once again, only Bayern made it past the second round. And if you look at any potenial champs league qualifiers from Germany outside of Bayern, i'd still bet any English team would overcome them

    Italy. their most recent european winners, AC milan, got dumped out by Man Utd 7-2 on aggregate whilst Inter has done well this year, its has taken several years at a vast fortune to get this far. And particualy if Mourinho goes at the end of the season, there will be no guarantees they will do the same trick. Especially if you see how badly they have been performing in the league this season

    And with france, its fair to say that if they didn't draw each other there wouldn't be a french semi finalist. and lyon have spent very big this year too.

    Whilst its good to see other nations coming back into it, this is only one season and if England gets 3 teams in next years semi final again, this season should be taken in isolation. Next season, I predict a English blacklash!

  • Comment number 21.

    Personally I think this year was just a rash of bad luck. Chelsea not beating Inter Milan when it was the far superior team. United on away goals when the aggregate score should have been something like 8 to 4 over the two legs. Arsenal trying but ultimately failing when up 1 nil because while Messi is a great player every ball fell to him precisely in the right spot. Add to that the injuries to key players each team was carrying and it is not that big of a surprise that they did not get through. Each went out to established European clubs in Inter Milan, Bayern and Barcelona. Missing were Carvalho,Essien, Ashley Cole, Rooney, Hargeaves, Van Persie and Fabregas. Each and everyone would have impacted those ties. No Luck plays a very important part in a knock out tournament.

  • Comment number 22.

    What a silly, shallow blog.

  • Comment number 23.

    I dont remember Platini moaning when he played in the Italian league in the 80s.

  • Comment number 24.

    So Mr Bond - spending cash equals footballing success?

    You haven't read Mr Platini's complaint very closely have you? Its about the fabric of football being about something other than money!

  • Comment number 25.

    What is it about the English and their paranoia regarding Platini?

    Collie21 gets it spot on.

    What platini wants is clubs to be fiscally responsible. Take Abramovich away from Chelsea and you make the mess Leeds got into look like some kid losing their pocket money. Glazers put Utd into half a billion in debt. The EPL, while being probably the most entertaining league in the world is a financial basket case.

  • Comment number 26.

    This is purely a blip if the draw had been different then we would most likely be looking at EPL clubs in the Semis, the only real decline in the big four is Liverpool. The tax situation and strenth of the pound will have a massive impact on British clubs, European salaries tend to be after tax so in truth represent even more money in comparison. The likes of bordeaux will soon be asset stripped by bigger clubs and Lyon have been around for years and with the sale of Benzema they were able to buy a whole new attack.

  • Comment number 27.

    @No.13...

    You can't be serious? Conspiracy? Five penalties for the Barcelona v Chelsea games? FIVE? You clearly have the blinkers on...lemme tell you something - I live in Scotland and watch Scottish teams get mercilessly dumped from Europe every season by average opposition (or worse) - on more than a few occasions soem of our better seasons have been tarnished in the end by "bad luck" - real awful decisions, etc...but, it remains the fact that you make your own luck - if any of the EPL teams who have been knocked out this year, last year, blah, blah, freakin-blah had deserved to go through, they would have been able to win two-legged ties on their merits. But because they haven't scored the right amount of goals they have been going out of Europe...moan, gripe, whatever you like - it doesn't change the facts: CL Semi-final draw: Insert lack of EPL teams here.

  • Comment number 28.

    @ kingeric1997
    So the red card that was given to Abidal due to Anelka's DIVE was part of Patini's plan??
    That forced Barcelona to play most of the second half with 10 men.

    I love how all Chelsea fans forget that point of the game.

  • Comment number 29.

    The drops in income are affecting how much money owners think they take out over the long term in return for their intial investments. This in turn is affecting the amount that they are prepared to pay in the first place so making some recently purchased clubs unbuyable. This will even itself out in the end, but this is the British system, regardless of which indutry it is. Why should we accept a different economic system to the one that we operate legally in this country for every company that is registered at companies house?

  • Comment number 30.

    To be honest I dont think anybody should be too concerned at no english team making the last 4 of the Champions League. We have had it good for the past 6 years with at least one team in the semi's plus 5 straight finalists, 1 all english final and 2 winners, so its been a great run. But it had to end some time and this was the year.

    No need to gripe and moan, we have got plenty to occupy us in the Premier League and in the summer so let Platini and his cronies have their moment.

    Order will be restored next season!

  • Comment number 31.

    I wouldn't be surprised if it was Alex Ferguson who wrote this blog, but then he would have just said, Typical French!

  • Comment number 32.

    Long ago, in a far away land called the Seventies/Eighties, the European Cup Final was as follows:

    1975 - Leed United vs Bayern M
    1977 - Liverpool vs Borussia M
    1978 - Liverpool vs FC Bruges
    1979 - Nottingham Forest vs Malmo (ffs!)
    1980 - Nottingham Forest vs Hamburg
    1981 - Liverpool vs Real Madrid
    1982 - Aston Villa vs Bayern M
    1984 - Liverpool vs Roma
    1985 - Liverpool vs Juventus

    That's NINE times in 11 years and only Leeds lost (or were cheated, depending on your view). And remember, this was when only the champions of each country were competing.
    So, what did UEFA do? They started looking for the opportunity to throw English teams out and, hey, presto, the Heysel disaster presented itself. And who was responsible for staging the European Cup Final in a dilapidated old stadium? So, just by banning English teams, crowd trouble in UEFA tournaments TOTALLY disappeared, didn't it?
    Fast forward to the noughties and history repeats itself. Platini is hell-bent on ensuring that English teams do not get close to winning the European Cup because he doesn't want the 70s/80s repeating itself. So, he dreams up a way of banning them through the financial fair play threat.
    Platini is a disgrace to football. I'm really glad that he NEVER EVER won the World Cup and of all the teams to lose to in the semis, Germany, TWICE ! HA HA !

  • Comment number 33.

    I think it is a little premature to claim that the English game is on the wane after some poor performances this time out. The key changes domestically have been the sale of Ronaldo and Alonso to Real Madrid (who incidentally exited early and whose transfer dealings distort your analysis above).

    Luck has played its part this season (Arsenal's draw against Barcelona rather than Lyon or Bordeaux who are comparatively poor) whilst some well below par performances (particularly Liverpool given their squad) have meant that English clubs have vastly underachieved.

    There is no doubt, all of the top 4 need to spend big this summer and perhaps there will be some managerial changes too. Ultimately, it is the success of these changes that will determine whether this year is a mere blip or the beginning of a downward trend.

    In any event, I struggle to understand why Platini gets so worked up by the financing of football clubs (or does he just not like us?). Fifa & Uefa have created a global football empire that lends itself to participants behaving like large corporates (leveraging their balance sheets or otherwise sourcing funds to obtain prize assets (players) in order to fund high growth (win the Champions League and the big money that goes with it)), corporate failure is a very real symptom of the real world, so why shouldn't football follow suit.....unless of course, we revert to a world where football reverts to being a game for the fans, in which case, the European Cup Final and other such prize events would result in a fair 50:50 ticket allocation rather than the vast majority of tickets being made available for the 'Fifa/Uefa family' (aka corporate sponsors on a jolly).


  • Comment number 34.

    i'm not saying that arsenal could have won or anything.... but the referee was really harsh on us and almost everything barca did (like tripping us and rolling around for no reason) went unpunished!!

  • Comment number 35.

    So, Bundesliga spending on players has increased five-fold?

    So what?

    Don't be thinking the likes of Wolfsburg, Bayern and Shalke are building up debts, because they're not. You don't even get a license to PLAY in the top two German divisions unless you can demonstrate your earnings for the season will exceed your outlays. No points deductions and uncertainty as to when they'll apply... you're OUT, end of!

    The simple facts are, there's more TV money in the Bundesliga than there is in The Premier League. And once English clubs are prevented from building up huge debts, that extra money will start to show in European club results.

    Platini doesn't have a problem with English clubs. If these economic rules had been introduced 10 years ago, English clubs (with the possible exception of Man U) would barely have noticed, and the biggest losers would have been Real Madrid (who have traditionally carried debts of over $500 million for decades) and AC Milan.

    If I were a fan of an Italian club, I'd have reason to be worried. The system in Italy is about to change, from individual clubs negotiating their own TV deals, to a model similar to the German and English systems. For the likes of Juventus, with their ground capacity of less than thirty thousand, that's going to be a major slice of their revenue gone.

  • Comment number 36.

    The McNulty blog was essentially the same thing - jumping to conclusions. I know the media doesn't have much patience but I think it would be a little wiser to wait until next season before we judge things. The dominance thing was a myth anyway, English clubs may have dominated the latter stages since 2003, and had a finalist every year since 2005 but in that time English clubs have only won the competition twice.

    Journalism for journalism's sake...

  • Comment number 37.

    Dont worry everyone - by 10pm Fulham will still continue to fly the English Prem flag in Europe ..................

  • Comment number 38.

    Don't think Platini had any axe to grind with English clubs dominating Europe specifically, it was more of the case that one country dominating Europe specifically he had a problem with. To explain, the more countries that are represented in the later stages of europe, the better for UEFA, and for the competitions - if one country provides many teams then it means television viewing figures are likely to be down and therefore so would sponsorship. Take for example the Lyon Bordeaux semi final - I would make a wild guess that out of the three quarter finals that one got the lowest viewing figures across Europe, because it was France v France. Everyone other quarter final featured games from different countries and therefore likely to be higher numbers, for example I'm not a Man U fan, but I still watched their game to see how the English team did, many more English fans would have watched either as a supporter of United, as a neutral or because they were supporting anyone other than United.

    I don't think the failure of English teams to reach the semi finals shows that suddenly the tide has turned, but rather that those sides have failed to freshen up their teams - Chelsea and Man U have both had the same major core of players they've had for the last 5 years - an aging core.

  • Comment number 39.

    @ Comment 32

    So Uefa were happy for rioting English fans to ruin their showpiece event because it would give them an excuse to kick English clubs out of Europe? hmmmmmmm!
    Apparently Platini now wants to ban English clubs because he doesn't want them to win the European Cup? hmmmmmmmmm!

    Seriously, the paranoia developing among some people is ridiculous. Platini is doing ALL teams a favour by introducing these rulings. Fair play is of course part of it, but it also reduces the chances of teams going through the turmoil that Portsmouth are right now.

    Still you are correct that Platini was never part of a World Cup winning team, but as you like your statistics please see below and judge for yourself if he should be satisfied with his Career!......

    Individual honours
    1976
    France Football French Player of the Year
    1977
    France Football French Player of the Year
    L'Équipe French Champion of Champions
    1979
    Selected in FIFA XI to play Argentina
    1982
    Selected in Europe team to face FIFA XI in charity match for UNICEF
    1983
    Capocannoniere (top scorer) in Italian championship (16 goals)
    Coppa Super Clubs player of the tournament
    Chevron Award (best goal per game ratio in Italian league)
    Ballon d'Or
    Onze d'Or
    1984
    Capocannoniere (top scorer) in Italian championship (20 goals)
    European Championship player of the tournament
    European Championship top goalscorer (9 goals)
    European Footballer of the Year
    Guerin Sportivo magazine's player of the Italian championship
    L'Équipe French Champion of Champions
    Onze d'Or
    World Soccer Player of the Year
    1985
    Capocannoniere (top scorer) in Italian championship (18 goals)
    Chevron Award (best goal per game ratio in Italian league)
    European Cup top scorer (7 goals)
    Knight of the Legion of Honour
    Ballon d'Or
    Onze d'Or
    Intercontinental Cup Man of the match
    World Soccer Player of the Year

    International and Club Trophies

    1984 European Championships (Captain)
    1978 French Cup Final
    1981 French Ligue 1 Championship
    1984, 1986 Serie A Champions
    1984 European Cup Winners Cup
    1985 European Cup
    1984 European Super Cup
    1985 Intercontinental Cup

  • Comment number 40.

    I can't believe we're getting more of this Platini wants the English out conspiracy theory nonsense! The UEFA CL is a huge money spinner. If English teams were forced out by Platini then one of the biggest footballing audiences in Europe would turn it's back on the competition & the CL's major sponsors would demand a re-negotitation of their deals.

    Platini wants a fairer CL where it's football talent that counts NOT spending power. He is also not an idiot & realises that English clubs participating in the CL are a big attraction for potential sponsors so he needs them to be in there. Which is why all this anti-English stuff is rubbish!

    Also, the other point made in this article implies that English clubs have been so dominant in Europe they are all conquering! Nothing could be further from the truth.

    In the last 3 seasons 2007 - 2009 England produced 9 out of the 12 semi-finalists. In that period they won the CL an astounding once! Hardly domination! If you look at the statistics even further from when the CL was first devised there have been 18 tournaments which have witnessed 3 English triumphs. In the same period Spain have had 6 victories & Italy 4. Furthermore if you extend the CL back into the EC history then Spain have produced 12 winners with England & Italy on 11.

    These facts show that there is no English dominance in CL/EC competitions & surely highlight again that Platini beign anti-English or anti-Premier League is complete nonsense. Why would Platini be worried about English dominance when it blatantly doesn't exist!

  • Comment number 41.

    I don't get anyone of this, english football is on the wane nonsesne. If Robbin hadn't scroed that wonder goal, United would more than likely have brushed aside Lyon and been in the final again and this 'debate' wouldn't even be happening. A couple of bad results in one year is no indicator of how any given nation's footballing pedigree compares to others.

    Any one with half a footballing brain will tell you that Chelsea and Man Utd lost to frankly, inferior opposition in their last encounters and that it is only those two clubs along with Inter (probably) would have been the only serious contenders to knock out Barcelona.

    I can only assume that there's not much to write about or in the football news today I take it.

    If you actually wholehearted believe in what you've written David, I'd be quite surprised.

  • Comment number 42.

    Not sure where you get that Platini wasn't happy in particular with English clubs, I don't recall that I do however remember him commenting on the crazy way English clubs were operating in the transfer market and rightly so. Only a handful of Englishman on show midweek something that should be more concerning to the English football follower than Platini.

  • Comment number 43.

    Well if Chelsea got non-biased officials from UEFA then we'd still hav a chance of being in the competition.

    Yes, a fair argument is that Inter and Mourinho were tactically better, but the missed pen against Kalou and the Drogba sending off were both suspect.

    As for Barcelona last season, in 180mins of football Barca couldn't penetrate our defence and Messi wasn't effective. Oh and I mention Mr. Ovrebo's superb officiating?

    UEFA you're a joke!

  • Comment number 44.

    A good article... if you are trying to peddle British paranoia about Platini. In reality he probably doesn't mind who makes the last 4 of the Champions League. Aren't the financial figures skewed by certain big-spending clubs?

  • Comment number 45.

    I am somewhat disappointed by the hype surrounding the EPL's apparent domination of the UCL. Correct me if I'm wrong, but over the last decade English clubs have won 2 UCLs. AC Milan have made 3 finals and won 2 trophies, Bayern have won one UCL as have Porto and of course Real and Barca have won 3 between them. English clubs have had a strong presence, but that is all. It's time the English media stop the hype surrounding EPL clubs and look at the facts. It's like saying the Dutch team of the 1970s were dominant when in fact West Germany and Argentina won the world cups of 74 and 78. We should enjoy the consistent and excellent performances of English clubs, but let's not get carried away.

  • Comment number 46.

    Manchester United should have won last night, and would have done - comfortably - but for the sending off. This article would not even have been written if that red card had not been produced, so I think you are jumping the gun a little bit David.

  • Comment number 47.

    There can be no real doubt that Platini's opinion of English clubs is rooted in simple xenophobia, consider his reaction to Manchester City offering £100M for Kaka where he shocked and scornful of the 'ridiculous' offer. Then contrast that to Real Madrid paying £80M for Ronaldo when he said “The big clubs always want the best players and I can understand why Real would love to have him. It is normal for a club to want a player if they have the finances.”

    Perhaps he thinks Real had the odd £220M in a sock under the mattress.

    Those touching on the tax situation raise a core issue. Not only does the UK have punitive tax, national insurance and a weak currency, players moving to Spain benefit from blatant tax benefits and 'loopholes' that are no more than a government subsidy.

    So much for harmonisation of the tax regime across the EU.

    Tilting the playing field in favour of Spanish clubs is clearly unfair and is preventing teams in other countries from competing equally in the transfer market. If that happened in any other industry there would be outrage and legal sanctions to stop it.

    Of course Platini has said precisely nothing about this disgraceful distortion of the business environment for football clubs. Why should he, so long as it weakens English football then it fits his plans perfectly.





  • Comment number 48.

    I think that Platini should be praised for his vision. The so-called top4 have led to the near demise of English football. Even West Ham, the bedrock of English footbal, does not look English any more. I am not sure that these can be called 'English' clubs at all. A quick win, the quick quid at any price has priced the English out of their game really.
    If you look at Spurs and Villa, then you will see that English football is on the rise!

  • Comment number 49.

    This article only plays to the paranoia of English clubs and fans who somehow believe that UEFA doesn't like them: e.g. the alleged anti-Chelsea conspiracy in which referees are appointed to make sure they exit the CL. This anglocentric piece is complete and utter nonsense. Try seeing football life from the perspective of fans in the non-big 5 countries whose clubs don't get the same level of access to competitions as you do.

    One of Platini's main concerns coming in was to tackle the problem of the big clubs from the big 5 countries (England, Spain, France, Italy and Germany) carving up the Eurpean competitions to mainly reward themselves: 'Why should the champions of Denmark be treated less than the 3rd placed club in England' paraphrases one of his arguements. And one means of trying to get a more even playing field in Europe was to try and curb excessive spending, which would hit the Italians as much as it would the Spanish and the English. One reason that spending has increased in other big 5 leagues is because less of their major clubs are as debt-ridden as clubs in the EPL.

  • Comment number 50.

    No one (including Platini) hates the English. People hate the way football is run in England. It's run as a business while in the rest of Europe it's still seen as a sport. English teams are guilty of using financial dope to get the advantage of other teams in Europe (like German teams, Belgian, etc...) who can't have any debts whatsoever while Man United has over £1 bn debt. And I'm not even talking about all those sugar daddies the premier league teams have. How is that fair for he rest of us?

    By the way, ask the italians or germans or the small football countries in Europe and they will say that Platini hates them too. Just because English media has the biggest influence in the world doesn't mean their voice is the right one.

    Anyway, good to see some 'new' teams like Lyon and Inter Milan in the semi finals. It can only make the CL more interesting.

  • Comment number 51.

    nonenglish - spot on there.

    Platini has got it in for the english and has done since day one! Prepare yourselves for even more dodgy referees in the next few years or so. I, for one , cant believe the FA back in the 80s let UEFA get away with banning English clubs. And for FIVE years as well. I mean, didnt the Juve fans riot as well??

    If UEFA tried it today the European courts would be involved and alsorts!

    Everyone knows Madrid were bank rolled by the King last summer who is a big fan, so spent 200mill plus on players. Was it all legal? Is it fair? good for the game? Doed Platini care? Dont think so.

    Too busy plotting with his crony referees I bet!

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    The evidence from one UCL season, where English clubs haven't done as well as before, isn't enough to extrapolate from and make conclusions about possible long term trends in the success of English clubs in Europe. Knockout football is inherently unpredictable, and in the final stages of the UCL, when top teams go against each other, either result is possible. Moreover, if you are to make any possible conclusions from this season, you could say other teams like Inter, Bordeaux and Lyon are improving, rather than this marking the start of a terminal decline in the fortunes of the English teams.

    I don't doubt that the English Premier league sides will continue to compete in the later rounds of the UCL in the coming seasons, although there's a good chance that the dominance will not be as strong as it has been recently, more due to other teams improving than any drop in the EPL standards (although the latter may occur as well). This can only be good for the competition, because you want to see new teams challenging for Europe's top competition, and no one wants a monopoly.

    Will economic policy in the UK have a long term effect on the competitiveness of British teams in Europe? The increase in the top rate of tax may put some top stars off joining EPL teams, and there may well be a trend of top footballers going to Spain instead of England, attracted by the lower rate of tax. This may have the effect of redistributing the balance of power in favour of European club sides. However, is it worth to sacrifice UK football competitiveness in favour of using the tax revenue for social security, NHS, schools, and for welfare programs? Absolutely, so this is definitely not a criticism of the new tax policy. However, it may make Spain especially even more powerful in the UCL.

    I think Platini's criticisms of the EPL is not so much because of any anglophobic sentiments, but underlines the tension that exists between Europe and the UK. The UK has, since the 1980s, adopted free market, neoliberal policies, while Europe has followed the European Social model, which is a model more akin to social democratic Keynesian values. Europe has never been a fan of the UK model, and Platini is merely voicing his disapproval at the direction that the UK economy has taken, a direction perfectly exemplified by the EPL, an organisation that has embraced free market laissez faire deregulation. Ultimately, I believe it's an ideological disagreement rather than a parochial argument.

    Eventually, I believe we in the UK will return to post WW2 social democratic welfare state values, and with that (and hopefully greater cooperation with Europe) inequality should decrease, and this will be reflected in the Champions League, with more teams competing for the title, unfettered by any economic disadvantage they may have compared to the English teams.

  • Comment number 54.

    completely over-analysed and overhyped - the draw worked against the english clubs, simple as that, you can't really say Inter or Bayern or pretty much anyone but Barca are hugely superior to the big english sides - United have weakened a bit, that's about it

    The Capello bit, I will agree with

  • Comment number 55.

    mtrenners The answer to your point is simple if Platini wants to have more countries represented in the later stages it's simple stop complaining about EPL clubs dominating the competition and go back to the earlier formula of Champions Cup (only champions are allowed to enter) Cup Winners cup and Eufa Cup. However he won't do that because he wants the money generated by the Champions league either he should put up or shut up because he has been heard to moan consistantly about English clubs.
    p.s. I can say this because although I live in England I am not English so do not have any paranoia about English football.

  • Comment number 56.

    Fulham and liverpool in the semis of the europa cup. So the english have caught up with the rest of europe and will dominate the europa league for the next 5 years. Right david bond?

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    it is the same as the world cup.. they want us in it (because of the huge revenue we bring along) but they don't want us to win it.. what else is new?.. on another note, how come none of these debt issues apply to real madrid.. they get huge financial bailouts by the spanish government no less

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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