Major reforms of football have moved a step closer after European sports ministers agreed to a raft of proposals including controls on how much clubs can pay for players’ wages and transfers.
The Independent Sports Review, the report by former Portuguese minister Jose Luis Arnaut which contains the proposals, is to become a key part of a European Commission (EC) white paper on sport.
Arnaut’s review calls for rules to prevent billionaire owners “buying up all the best players”, and that salary controls should not limit what an individual player can earn but curb the total amount clubs can spend on wages.
The latest move was agreed by a meeting of 25 European sports ministers in Brussels today, and six ministers – including Britain’s Richard Caborn, a key mover in attempts to reform the way football is governed – will now form a working group to advise on the drafting of the new legislation.
The International Olympic Committee have also been successful in their efforts to ensure that new laws will help grassroots and community sport as well as tackle commercial sport.
Caborn told PA Sport: “It was a very successful meeting and we are now a large step down the road towards securing legislation that will be good for sport.”
Caborn has been fiercely criticised by Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore for trying to increase government influence over sport, and the pair will now have a meeting on the issue in February.
The sports minister has also agreed to meetings with G14, the grouping of elite European clubs including Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, and he will meet the European Leagues in January.
Scudamore insists domestic football should be run from this country without EC and UEFA interference.
He wrote in The Times: “UEFA is not and should not be the governing body of European football – they have their own competitions to run and should be free to do so, as we have ours.
“The idea that the rest of European football can decide what is best for the English game is a nonsense, just as it should be down to the Germans, French, Italians, Spanish, Dutch etc as to how they run their leagues.”
On the proposal that clubs should be limited to only spending a proportion of their turnover on salaries, Scudamore added: “(This) actually locks in an advantage to the big clubs, because they have the highest turnover.
“It would also mean that the likes of Wigan, Fulham and Middlesbrough would probably not be in the Premier League. Is this what we really want?
“The Premier League has huge respect for Richard Caborn and the job he does, but there is no need for a pseudo-European Sports Minister pushing an agenda that runs counter to continued success for the Premier League.”
Issues also previously identified by Arnaut as needing attention include some form of limit on foreign players and the urgent need to tackle illegal gambling, money laundering, racism and the trafficking of young players.