This is a bit rich. We noted yesterday Michel Platini’s announcement that UEFA would demand clubs break even in the soccer business to enter the Champions League by 2010, and according to Platini, a leading instigator of this attempt to level the playing field is none other than that well-known frugal owner, Roman Abramovich.
Platini explained that “It’s mainly the owners that asked us to do something – Roman Abramovich, (AC Milan’s) Silvio Berlusconi, (Inter Milan’s) Massimo Moratti. They do not want to fork out from their pockets any more.”
Platini continued that, “Manchester City can spend £300m if they want to but if they are not breaking even in three years then they cannot play in European competition. I haven’t spoken to Manchester City about this and I don’t remember meeting their owner [Sheikh Mansour], but I’m sure I will. Roman Abramovich is a football person and passionate about the game. He loves football. He has come to me and said that we must do something about this.”
According to reports, Abramovich has been alarmed by the spending of Manchester City, and has been attempting what the Guardian nicely describes as “relative austerity” (because he’s a lot less rich now than he was five years ago). So let me get this straight — Abramovich sent Chelsea into the stratosphere by spending wildly and leading to the inflationary pressures in the European game that he’s now complaining about, and so wants to limit other clubs abilities to wildly outspend him as a consequence?
- America’s lower league system the USL is in new hands, as its sale from Nike to Nu Rock Holdings was confirmed yesterday. Their bid won out over that of Miami FC’s owners Traffic, with the Miami Herald speculating this could mean the end for Miami’s USL team, who lost 9-0 to Carolina on Wednesday night. With another ownership group within USL supposedly having submitted a bid, is NuRock the answer? The news that Nike/Umbro are staying on as sponsors is certainly a positive point.
- Jennifer Doyle has a piece on “Why I want a feminist, anti-homophobic WPS & a more progressive, anti-nationalist/pro-migrant MLS“ as a response to some discussion of her stance from Dan Loney on BigSoccer. I’m not distilling such a complex argument into a bullet point, so take the time to read it.
- Match Fit USA has a piece on the American company leading Russia’s 2018/2022 World Cup bid, competing with their home nation.
- A supporters match between LA Galaxy and Chivas USA supporters’ groups was cancelled by the Home Depot Center just two days before it was scheduled to take place, the Examiner reports. Chivas’ Union Ultras and the Galaxy’s Angel City Brigade had arranged the match as part of an attempt to improve dialog between the groups. “We basically decided to use open dialog and open access between the groups to avoid the misunderstandings that lead to violence”, said an Union Ultras member. Ironically, Home Depot management reportedly cancelled the match due to a fear of trouble breaking out. Having been involved in supporters’ matches myself, I can say that if this is true, this was a short-sighted move as whilst such matches don’t necesarily lead to friendship, they can promote some mutual respect.
- Tottenham Hotspur announced a new “strategic partnership” with Internacional of Brazil, with a focus on player development. One would think this might prove rather more fruitful in this regard than their other partnership with the San Jose Earthquakes.
- Fifa.com has its Friday World Leagues Preview, noting that the Kashima Antlers are closing in on their third straight title in Japan.
- There’s plenty of analysis on the Champions League group stage draw, with Henry Winter commenting it was friendly to English clubs, but Kevin McCarra noting the fixture congestion ahead for the Big Four.
- Meanwhile, SoccerLens has a good update on the latest in the AFC Champions League as it enters the quarter-final stage in Asia.
- There was plenty of action in the Europa League last night. Aston Villa’s defeat got the most attention, but the biggest shock was probably the demise of Zenit St. Petersburg, winners of the UEFA Cup two years ago, who crashed out to Nacional (Cristiano Ronaldo’s former club, but hardly a heavyweight in Portuguese football).
The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.