Football: Sampdoria bend rules to help Platt

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The Independent Online
SAMPDORIA ARE confident they can overcome the technical problems threatening their proposed appointment of David Platt as their team coach.

The former England international's appointment is expected to be formally announced at a press conference in Genoa today attended by both the club president, Enrico Mantovani, and Platt himself. Platt will take over from Luciano Spalletti who was sacked last Sunday following Sampdoria's 5-2 away defeat against Lazio that left the club just one point clear of the relegation zone.

Under the Italian football federation's regulations, however, Platt is not permitted to coach a Serie A side because he lacks the necessary coaching permit. But it appears that Sampdoria will get around this problem by appointing the 59-year-old Giorgio Veneri as coach and assistant to Platt. Veneri, who travelled to Genoa yesterday to supervise an afternoon training session, has had extensive lower-division experience, having coached the Serie C sides Leffe and Prato.

The idea, however, has not met with universal approval. The former Italian national team coach, Azeglio Vicini, currently the president of the Italian Coaches' Association, said that "Platt was in no way qualified to coach the Genoa club. He's not even qualified to coach the reserve side... according to the rules, there is no way that a category three coach can coach the Sampdoria first team."

Platt's current position as the assistant to the English Football Association's technical director, Howard Wilkinson, may entitle him to a "category three" Italian permit. But Platt would need a "category one" permit to coach the first team.

Despite the negative opinion expressed by Vicini, it is understood that Sampdoria will find a way around this bureaucratic problem. A similar problem faced the former Blackburn Rovers manager Roy Hodgson when he took over Internazionale in 1995 and was resolved by Hodgson being appointed "technical director", with the Serie A licence being held by his assistant Giovanni Ardemagni.

Platt's appointment has, however, met with the approval of several of the club's senior players, some of whom played alongside him during his four-year spell with Bari, Juventus and Sampdoria between 1991 and 1995. "He may well be the right man. He's a former Sampdoria player, he was a great player and he knows his football," said the defender Marco Franceschetti. "He comes here at a difficult moment, a time when sadness and resignation need to be chased out of our dressing-room... we'll welcome him warmly."

If the appointment is made today, Platt's first match will be against second-placed Milan on Sunday.