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Since 1st March, 1999
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Sepp Blatter wants stricter control

Brussels: Sepp Blatter demanded an end to the profiteering raids on English clubs by foreign billionaires last night (Monday) and called for a strict regime of controls to rein in the power of the Barclays Premier League.

The president of Fifa warned that the game is at a crossroads at which the richest clubs would become richer at the expense of those without the backing of billionaires prepared to spend their way to success.

And he has charged Michel Platini, the president of Uefa, with enforcing stricter licensing rules on ownership, which could mean delving into the backgrounds of potential owners and ensuring that they have the cash to support a takeover.

With Newcastle United, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur among the Premier League clubs either on the market or open to bids, Blatter’s intervention could have far-reaching effects.

He will hope so, for he presented a damning assessment of the English game only minutes after emerging from a top-level meeting with Euro MPs in Brussels about the future of the professional game in Europe.

Blatter found widespread sympathy among the MEPs on the powerful Committee for Culture and Sport for his plan to introduce a quota system of a minimum of six home-grown players to a maximum of five foreigners — the so-called 6+5 system — in every team, in an effort to prevent the richest clubs relying on buying the best talent from around the world.

But Blatter outlined his fears for an English game overloaded with debt, dominated by four clubs and owned by wealthy foreigners who could walk away at any moment. Although he did not name him, Blatter reserved a volley of criticism for Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister of Thailand, who was forced to sell Manchester City to a group from Abu Dhabi while facing corruption charges in his home country.

“We have to be alarmed,” Blatter said. “We have one Prime Minister for Thailand going back to his country and he sells his club like you would sell a shirt. Something is very badly wrong here. I don’t know how it can be stopped, but there is always a danger that these people will just one day leave. You get people turning up with banker’s guarantees who are not interested in football and then they lose interest in the clubs and leave. What happens to the clubs then?

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