Uefa to probe Abramovich in crackdown

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UEFA are set to toughen up their rules on club ownership in a move which could force Chelsea supremo Roman Abramovich to end his association with CSKA Moscow.

European football's rulers are concerned that a single person having major influence over two clubs in the same competition jeopardises the game's credibility. Abramovich is the major shareholder in the Sibneft oil giant, who have a £10million-a-year shirt sponsorship deal with CSKA.

UEFA's rules currently do not prohibit the link - Chelsea and CSKA played each other in the Champions League group phase last season - but that may now change. UEFA chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson said: "We are concerned about the current development in European football when it comes to ownership. We are looking into that because there's a risk that the credibility of our competition is in jeopardy.

"We already have in our club licensing system that one person is not allowed to own more than one club in the same competition. "It's become more sophisticated now - there could be that an owner of one club is the main sponsor of another and have a major impact on that club. That's something we are looking at.

"We are looking at whether major sponsors should be seen as a form of ownership or not. "We have to abide by EU rules but it could be turned into a sporting rule. "If we have owners of more than one club or individuals with power over more than one club in the same competition people ask themselves are the results fair. We have to be very careful."

Meanwhile, UEFA are to bring in a new code of ethics in September making clear that "unacceptable behaviour by players or coaches, by word or action, will be subject to strong sanctions". UEFA will also instruct national associations what behaviour levels are acceptable from coaches, players and fans and to issue instructions to referees not to tolerate dissent.

They will also spend next season reviewing disciplinary measures with a view to bringing in a new system of penalties for the 2006-07 season.

UEFA have been stung into action by criticism after the Chelsea-Anders Frisk affair that fines now mean little to wealthy clubs and national associations and are set to move towards a system where points deductions and match forfeits will be become regular punishments. Olsson said: "The executive committee want to move cautiously on this matter to be absolutely sure of the consequences of this action.

"It has been decided that we should look into sporting sanctions rather than developing the fines system. They have asked for a catalogue of all possible sanctions for all possible offences to be brought to the next executive committee meeting." Chelsea were fined £33,000 by UEFA in March for bringing the game into disrepute over the Anders Frisk affair - less than half a week's wages for one of the top players.

There was also criticism that Italian side Inter Milan were given a four-match stadium ban for a second offence of crowd trouble instead of being kicked out of the Champions League. Olsson added that the managers of the Champions League sides who meet in Nyon in September for the UEFA elite coaches forum would be asked to stress the need for good behaviour. He said: "Players and club officials have such a huge exposure. We will ask the coaches to to help us make their colleagues and players behave better."

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