Review backs efforts to limit foreign players

A review of European football will back efforts to limit the number of foreign players in English football when it is published tomorrow.

A review of European football will back efforts to limit the number of foreign players in English football when it is published tomorrow.

The findings of the Independent European Football Review, which was instigated by sports minister Richard Caborn, will be presented to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and EC president Jose Manuel Barroso tomorrow.

It is understood the review will strengthen the football authorities and recommend reducing the power of the clubs.

The report will also urge a better distribution of money in the game, wage controls in leagues and a wider adoption of UEFA’s club licensing system which requires clubs to field a minimum number of home-grown players in European competitions.

In terms of player wages, the report is expected to recommend leagues adopt a system where clubs can only pay a set percentage of their overall revenue in wages – a ruling that would hinder the likes of Chelsea.

Another recommendation is expected to be that sport should be given greater independence to govern its own affairs rather than having regulations constantly challenged in the European courts.

The report is unlikely to be welcomed by the Premier League or the wealthy clubs in the elite group G14, including Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, who want greater power and independence from the football authorities.

G14 are already involved in a court battle with world governing body FIFA over being obliged to release of players for international duty without compensation.

If Barroso can be persuaded that such rules are purely a matter for the sport rather than the European Commission, then it would be a big blow to G14.

Blair is expected to back the blueprint, which has been drawn up by Jose Luis Arnaut, the Portuguese sports minister – something that will disappoint the Premier League who have reportedly expressed their alarm at the report to the British Prime Minister.

They are understood to be arguing that the review would allow the European Commission to take direct control of domestic football.

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