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Platini selection welcomed but doubts quickly raised

Platini selection welcomed but doubts quickly raised

Michel Platini began his first full day in office as the new president of European football's governing body UEFA yesterday, pledging a manifesto based more on football than finance.
The 51-year-old former French football legend, who beat incumbent president Lennart Johansson by 27 to 23 after the vote by UEFA's 52 member nations at the UEFA Congress in Dusseldorf on Friday, said he would emphasize the development of the sport across the continent as a whole.
This has ruffled the feathers of some of the larger footballing nations such as England, which have four Champions League berths, because Platini plans to make three the maximum allocation for the 2009/10 season.
UEFA has already started helping the minnows and, hours after Platini was voted in, Andorra, San Marino and Montenegro were handed Champions league qualifying places for next season.
It was a great day for Montenegro, which earlier in the day was handed full UEFA membership from July 1 this year following its split with Serbia in 2006.
Platini said on proposed changes: "The new format of the Champions League is for 2009. I talked about finding a better equilibrium for the number of clubs and that's for 2009/10.
"The final decision will be (by UEFA's executive committee) in April so we have a few months still to see which way we will go, but I would like a better equilibrium, it is very close to my heart."
Meanwhile, the G14 group comprising 18 of Europe's richest clubs, was in a positive mood following the election of Platini to the post after 17 years of Johansson's tenure.
Since the 1992/93 season, the European Champions League has generated more than five billion euros with 635 million euros going into the coffers of national federations and leagues.
It might have been thought the G14 would have been cautious at the prospect of Platini's arrival but a statement read: "The G14 wishes Platini a lot of success. The G14 are going to continue working in a constructive way with UEFA and its new president as a contribution ensuring the sport is united and flourishing across the continent."
However, Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said Platini should not tinker with the Champions League.
"The tournament really starts in February, but I think it is OK the way it is at the moment. The appeal of the Champions League is when the giants of Spain or Italy or England come up against each other," Ferguson said.
"If he wants to take a Champions League place away from us that is to the detriment of the Premiership.
"The Champions League has been good. If you go back a few years, there were maybe too many games with two qualifying groups because you had to play about 17 games to win it.
"If you take away the fourth-place teams, the only way to address that is by reducing the competition or by giving other countries two places."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was positive about Platini's appointment, but hesitant to praise his plans about the Champions League.
"It is the first time that a player is in charge," he said. "We in football complain always that the players have no say, so at least we cannot complain anymore. What is happening today is that two go directly in and two have to qualify against the teams in the smaller countries.
"What will happen when the smaller teams go one round further and go out early in a group stage? The competition will lose interest, that is all that will happen."
Bolton manager Sam Allardyce said he felt his team could be one of the victims of Platini's proposals.
"In one way it is nice to see a football man in charge," he said. "But on the other hand if he wants to take a Champions League place away from us that is to the detriment of the Premiership.
"If he can get away with that it is going to bring a lot of heartache to our league. It would be a big blow."


Updated : 2021-07-26 13:43 GMT+08:00