UEFA Boss Platini: "England 'Cheats'"

The owners of England's Top Professional Clubs were left "seething" after a public blast by UEFA President Michael Platini, who, among other things, says that CHELSEA AND MANCHESTER UNITED GOT TO THE TOP OF THE HEAP ON "CREDIT", essentially borrowing their way to the top, leaving their clubs holding mountains of debt.

Platini, apparently itching for a fight with the EPL, complained that the goal of top English clubs is "not to win titles but [to make] money to pay off debts", took a swipe at "foreign ownership" (being certain to mention Americans in the process) and opined that "today it’s those who cheat who win."

Not surprisingly, the EPL owners didn't take this very well. The chief execs at ManU and Chelsea were said to be "furious" and one league source fumed that the Premiership wasn't going to take being "slagged off" by Platini.

No wonder England is down in the Caribbean making nice with Jack "Sauron" Warner - some time soon he'll be the only friend they have left.

Concurrently Sepp Blatter is, to borrow a phrase, "taunting" England that the EPL ACTUALLY HELPS OTHER NATION"S NATIONAL TEAMS while hurting their own.

By providing top stars from all over Europe the opportunity to play at the highest level thus relegating home grown British lads to the second and third tier, England, according to Sepp, is boosting everyone else's programs at the expense of their own.

All of which brings us, as these things often do to FIFA Supremo Sepp Blatter's pet ""6+5" project.

It hasn't escaped much of anyone's notice that the plan is aimed squarely at the English Premier League. It sure isn't Romania or Montenegro that Blatter thinks is importing too many foreign players.

And with teams like Arsenal occasionally starting 11 non-Brits, it's no secret that if Blatter was to get his way the league that would feel the biggest impact - financially as well as on the pitch - would be England's.

Everyone was all keyed up last week for the coming storm and bitter trench warfare that was assuredly going to erupt after FIFA's General Congress voted to back Blatter's program. The EU staked out their position, various FIFA confederations got in line and it looked like a Mexican standoff.

But when the proposal finally hit the floor, it wasn't anything like what we had been led to believe. It was merely an agreement on the principle that FIFA ought to "pursue" the "6+5" idea and give it "further consideration".

A few days later, after meeting with EU Poobahs, Blatter announced that he was "delighted" that "the dialogue will continue".

Talk about a letdown. Here we were looking for an all-out war and instead we got a tiddlywinks tournament.

All of which makes it appear that when it came time to go nose-to-nose with the EU, Blatter flinched. The proposal was so lame and watery that even various EU officials "applauded" Blatter's "flexibility and willingness to compromise".

Interestingly the FA, in the person of soon-to-be-dining-with-Jack-Warner President Lord Triesman, is SUGGESTING THAT THEY MIGHT TAKE THE "6+5" PROPOSAL OUT FOR A LITTLE SPIN during the next FA Cup tournament.


Do you have any "Low Salt" selections?"

Not that it might have anything to do with trying to curry favor with Blatter or anything, but the domestic Cup is something the FA directly controls and while the legalities may be a bit sticky it surely would please Uncle Sepp to see them give it a shot.

Meanwhile, as all of Europe gears up for Euro 2008 (which tournament, pointedly, the England squad will be watching on TV) it's becoming increasingly apparent that this will be "ONE FOR THE AGED" as team after team goes for the semi-retired, the should be retired and the nearing-retirement over up and coming young stars.

(And don't be thinking you're going to give bribing some players in order to win some money at the betting windows a try: UEFA IS ALL OVER THAT ONE)

It could be a sign of coaches running scared and playing it safe, or it could be that the coming generation isn't quite ready for prime time. Who can say.

Whatever it is, be prepared for guile and style over crash and dash, as some of these aged warriors will be spending more time in the trainer's room than out on the pitch.

Finally in a commentary making the rounds of various publications one journalist is saying that EURO 2008 IS MORE COMPETITIVE THAN THE WORLD CUP because, according to him, it isn't cluttered up with all those crummy teams from outside the Continent that only serve to dilute the quality of the competition.

And after all, nothing makes a soccer tournament less appealing than second rate outfits like Argentina and Brazil cluttering up the thing. Clearly most of us would much rather see Sweden, Croatia and Austria.