Football: Super League plan 'still has hope'

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MEDIA PARTNERS' plans for a European Football Super League may have suffered a setback in Geneva, but they are not yet dead and buried, according to a source close to the Italian television sports rights marketing agency and some of the club officials representing the 12 clubs who attended Friday's meeting. "Nothing has been revealed yet, in terms of the actual business figures involved, and talks with all 36 clubs are scheduled to continue," said one source. "It is certainly not dormant."

The clubs, including Liverpool and Manchester United, have accepted Uefa's proposals for a revamped 32-club Champions' League on a provisional basis. But the absence of detail revealed on all sides suggests that it may be the clubs - seeking control of the commercial revenues including advertising and television rights - who have driven this bargain, not the European ruling body of the sport.

The Bayern Munich vice-president, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, was one of the men at the third meeting of Uefa's "task force" group and summed it up as "positive" on the clubs' behalf. But he was unable to add any details other than that Uefa has, in principle, accepted the notion - proposed originally by Media Partners - that the clubs control their own commercial destiny.

Rummenigge also made it clear that he, in common with the representatives of Real Madrid, Milan, Internazionale, Juventus and Ajax, recognises that Media Partners has played a leading part in achieving a windfall for the clubs this autumn. "Of course, we know how much time, energy and money they have put into their project," he said.

"That is not forgotten."

A strong link remains between the leading clubs and the Media Partners agency who have acted virtually as consultants on the business issues.

Indeed, it is understood that Media Partners may well profit from a share of any increased revenue generated by the clubs - and in particular those in the five main European markets of Italy, France, Spain, Germany and England - as a result of these protracted talks and the formation of a new league.

As Rummenigge pointed out, last season the German national television company RTL paid Uefa 90 million Swiss Francs for the German rights, but of that only four million was paid to each of the two German clubs participating in the Champions' League. That, he said, was a prime example of the bone of contention which was at the centre of Friday's talks. More details now have to be revealed - they are reportedly contained in a computer disk handed out to each club in Geneva - before the Media Partners' plans are finally laid to rest.

The Sun newspaper yesterday apologised to Alan Shearer and Glenn Hoddle for suggesting they had a dressing- room argument after England's 3-0 win in Luxembourg. The paper said: "We totally accept Alan Shearer's account and are sorry for any embarrassment caused to Alan and to Glenn Hoddle in our reporting of these comments."

Shearer said: "I am delighted that this matter has been settled amicably and quickly."

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