Platini puts spotlight on poaching young talent


However, there are concerns for the future of English football as Arsenal are unlikely to have an English player starting against Liverpool who themselves have very few English players.

English clubs are particularly reliant on overseas talent not just in their first teams but also at academy level, a situation that worries UEFA president Michel Platini.

The Frenchman said he wants rules put in place to stop top clubs poaching the most talented teenagers from abroad and will work with the European Commission to try and limit the influx of foreign teenagers.

Platini also said he fears for the future of English football if the current trend of club’s selling out to billionaire foreign owners continues.

“I have told the European Commission that we should ban the transfer of minors. The first contract a player signs should be with the club who trains him,” Platini said.

“Minors shouldn’t be seen as a machine that can be transferred for the benefit of agents or clubs.”

On foreign ownership, Platini pointed the finger at Liverpool and Manchester City. He said it is about time clubs stop allowing themselves to be traded between billionaire individuals.

Liverpool has been at the centre of an ownership battle between Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett and a Dubai-based investment company this season.

“It does sadden me,” he said. “But it is up to the fans to take decisions, or for the city of Liverpool or England to take a position.

“If they are happy to live with it, there is nothing I can do. But, of course, it saddens me. I say these things because of my love for football.”

He also questions the motives of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in buying Manchester City.

“Why is he doing that? Is it because he wants to develop young people in Manchester? Or is he trying to elevate his prestige through buying a club in Britain?” Platini said.

“I understand this is the way things are going. But I’m saddened by it. I would prefer the former Thai Prime Minister to develop their football, Thai football, for Americans to develop football in the United States, rather than buy English clubs.

“Why are they not doing it in their country, if they love football and have money? They invest in different countries because it gives them profits.

“Rules need to be adopted in the English parliament and maybe also in the German, Austrian, Czech and Italian parliaments if people are willing to protect their national assets. After all, these football clubs are national assets. It is not the same as buying shares in Fiat or in France Telecom. I really can’t agree with it.”

Platini criticised the Premier League’s planned 39th game when it was announced last year and described his relationship with Premier League chief Peter Scudamore as difficult.

“I would say the aggression shown to me by Mr Scudamore is mutual,” says Platini. “I do not treat him with kid gloves, neither him nor the Premier League. But let’s just say that my English representative is the president of the English FA.”