Football: Venables attacks super league brokers

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The Independent Online
TERRY VENABLES yesterday admitted that he believed a European super league was "inevitable", because of the "grasping" nature of people in the modern game. The former England manager, who takes charge of his first game back at Crystal Palace on Saturday, said: "The game is now so big, no one can afford, economically or socially, not to be part of it and everyone wants their part of that pot of gold. They are all grasping for it.

"The Champions' League is very exciting but that is just tickling the surface. It is spreading the gospel for what will be in the future. Once it is squeezed dry we will be on to the next thing."

Venables, who was speaking at the launch of the Rothmans Football Yearbook, warned: "I'm for progress, but I don't like exclusive clubs. If they take away competition they are taking away the heart of our game.

"You have got to earn the right to be in it and win it. Everyone must have a chance."

Venables feels that both of this year's English entrants into the Champions' League have a chance. "Both clubs [Arsenal and Manchester United] could go right through to the very end. They are better equipped to represent us than ever before. Manchester United have good experience over several years and while Arsenal do not have that as a team, their players have experience.

"Football has always been a good television sport in this country, because of its pace. Now quality has been brought in, it still makes good TV. But we are also learning to change the pace of the game, which we have never been good at in the past."

Arsenal and Manchester United meet in the Charity Shield at Wembley on Sunday, but the match will be watched as much for the fans' reaction to David Beckham as for the performances of the teams. Beckham was made a scapegoat for England's World Cup failure and Venables said: "The huge reaction to the game these days has a downside as well as an upside. We must get some kind of proportion: even his family have been under threat. But everything is out of proportion now; maybe his wages, maybe his popularity - or lack of it.

"People talk about him going overseas but there is nowhere for him to run: the world is too small. It is high-risk money and you have to take the stick. This is a strange country; it might turn around, people will say "that's not fair" and then they will clap him.

"It is a very thin line," Venables concluded. "Look at Beckham and Michael Owen. It is a question of whether you get caught. One gets a penalty, one gets sent off."

The 29th Rothmans is the third to feature a "team of the season", which this year includes nine Arsenal players, plus Owen and Manchester United's Gary Neville. The book does not, however, contain a picture of Doncaster Rovers. Apparently the South Yorkshire club, who were relegated to the Vauxhall Conference last season, could not provide one - perhaps, suggested the editor, Glenda Rollin, because they did not have a team.

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