Football: Money divides Uefa and top clubs

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The Independent Online
EUROPE'S TOP clubs yesterday demanded 50 per cent of any revenue generated by Uefa's revamped Champions' League as a reward for shunning a rival European super league.

The celebratory mood in evidence last month after the big clubs agreed to stay true to Uefa evaporated at a meeting to thrash out the details of the new Champions' League - including the all-important issue of money.

The spirit of co-operation between the leading clubs and the game's governing body in Europe was tested yesterday when they began discussing the financial aspects of an expanded league.

After last month's handshakes and mutual congratulations, the 12 clubs - Ajax, Milan, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Internazionale, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester United, Marseilles, Porto and Real Madrid - sat down again with the governing body's Task Force to talk money and emerged less than united.

"I think at the moment that everyone is unhappy - so it must be fair," Rick Parry, the Liverpool chief executive, said.

"We discussed the format and I think we have decided to accept the proposal of 32 clubs. But how the money will be divided was probably the main topic of discussion and there's still some way to go."

Uefa was forced to propose a revamp of its competitions to head off the threat of a privately organised super league. The Champions' League currently has 24 teams.

Gerhard Aigner, the Uefa general secretary, said: "There was not a uniformity of view. The clubs want half the income to be distributed according to market value (the countries with big-money leagues) and half to be performance- related.

Regarding the crowded fixture calendar, he said Uefa had identified 17 dates but had yet to investigate in detail.

"The fixture list is always a problem," he said, and added in a veiled warning to the English and Spanish leagues: "Each league must examine its own situation and help find a solution."

Uefa has been trying to get the two countries to reduce the number of teams in their leagues from 20 to 18 but with little success.

Aigner said Uefa was confident its running of European football would not fall foul of an European Commission investigation, sparked by the proposed super league's organisers, Media Partners.

He also promised highlights of Champions' League games would be available on free television, even in areas where Pay TV had the main rights.

Thomas Ernst and VfL Bochum have been asked to provide an explanation after a second sample confirmed that he had tested positive for a banned substance.

The German federation, the DFB, said it would decide whether to launch disciplinary proceedings after studying the submissions from the player and the First Division club.

The DFB said on Friday that a first sample had shown Ernst had failed a dope test after his side's 3-2 away win over Kaiserslautern last month.

The DFB has not named the banned substance involved but media reports have said the club doctor gave Ernst treatment for circulation problems at half-time.

Although the medication itself is not on any banned list, it appears one of its ingredients may be.

Kaiserslautern have lodged an official complaint but the matter could end with neither side winning.

Otto Rehhagel, the Kaiserslautern coach, broke Bundesliga rules by having four players from outside the European Union on the pitch.

That would normally have meant Bochum being awarded the game 3-0, but club officials at the time decided not to lodge an official complaint as they had won the game anyway.

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