Europe's clubs face plan to link expenditure to income

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Big-spending clubs could face curbs on how much they pay for players' wages and transfers under proposals being considered by the game's lawmakers and European sports ministers.

The move would hit clubs subsidised by rich owners - such as Chelsea - as they would not be allowed to spend more than they earn. The idea has been mooted as part of a new Europe-wide licensing system after the possibility of a salary cap was abandoned.

The sports minister Richard Caborn, who attended a meeting in Brussels yesterday involving the governing body of European football, Uefa, ministers and EU officials, said: "It was recognised that a strict salary cap would be unworkable but it was broadly agreed that there should be some proper relationship between income and expenditure.

"The details have not been worked out yet - this was the first discussion. There were five sports ministers involved so politicians and football are working together very closely on this."

Clubs would not be allowed to spend more than they earn on transfer fees and players' wages but they would be allowed to borrow for capital investments such as new stadiums or training grounds. The proposals will now be formalised in the review of European football being carried out by Jose Luis Arnaut, a former presidency minister in the Portuguese government.

It will not be easy to gain the support of the clubs, however. G14, the grouping of elite European clubs which includes Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool, considered imposing a ceiling of 70 per cent for the proportion of revenue that could be spent on wages. That never became a formal rule for members, though, and was just a voluntary recommendation.

The Football League have introduced a rule for League Two clubs where only 60 per cent of revenue can be spent on wages, and are having a trial for the same rule in League One.

In Spain, the Real Madrid president, Ramon Calderon, said yesterday that he expects David Beckham's new contract to be sorted out within the next three weeks. Beckham's current four-year deal runs out next summer, which means he will be able to negotiate with any club in January. Madrid are keen for the former England captain to remain and Calderon believes a resolution will be reached soon.

"In the next 15 or 20 days, it will be solved," Calderon said. "Both [coach Fabio] Capello and the club are very happy with the player."

The Newcastle manager, Glenn Roeder, has revealed his shock at the abuse he suffered at his former club West Ham at the weekend. Roeder, who had surgery for a brain tumour in 2003, was called "Tumour Boy" by fans and was also asked: "Why didn't you die three years ago?".

Roeder, who was in charge at Upton Park when they were relegated in the same year as his illness, said: "One of the saddest things was that when I looked at the faces of some of the people who were shouting, they were men of my age. Men in their 40s and 50s, men screaming about brain tumours and death, men who, God forbid, might find themselves in the same position as me one day.

"At least I was there to hear them yelling. I'm much happier that I'm alive to hear it and not lying beneath the ground somewhere."