UEFA president Michel Platini has backed plans by the English Premier League to strengthen its financial regulations and set a quota of locally trained players for its clubs.
Platini has been critical of the Premier League, saying it could financially implode if clubs did not address their soaring levels of debt. Platini has also criticised the high proportion of foreign players being bought by English clubs and the lack of domestic talent being developed.
“The Premier League plans are more convergent with Michel Platini’s ideas. He finds them very interesting and applaudes the move,” advisor William Gaillard told Reuters.
“It is not for us to tell people at national level what they are supposed to do. We do not pretend to impose on them our solutions, but their (Premier League) new solutions converge with ours.”
Under pressure from UEFA, world body FIFA and the British government, the Premier League said last week it plans to tighten financial regulations, notably toughening rules on club ownership and curb its high levels of debt.
English clubs have amassed debts of around £3 billion, with nearly a third of that owed by the top four, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal.
The Premier League also announced it was considering imposing a so-called “home-grown player rule” to boost English talent, similar to the regulation imposed by UEFA on clubs in its competitions such as the Champions League.
Under such a rule, a club must have a quota of players of locally trained players in its squad, but without any discrimination on nationality or passport.
“We are all singing from the same hymn sheet because we are all facing the same challenges,” Gaillard said.
Platini has also said England’s top league was becoming boring, dominated by the same four clubs each season. Three English clubs have competed in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the past two seasons.
“Our competitions and the Premier League are becoming quite predictable…an issue we have to tackle quickly,” Gaillard said.
“We have to prevent people getting bored with the game. These kind of new rules can help bring about a more level playing field.”
The Premier League plans also include stricter rules on the transfer of players under the age of 18, something Platini has campaigned for.
The former French international wants European ban on transfers of players under the age of 18 to help bolster domestic leagues and combat the growing number of young players being transferred to Europe, notably from Africa and South America.
Currently, the minimum age in Europe for player transfers is 16 to meet EU labour laws, but the EC said it was willing to consider UEFA’s proposal.