Chelsea in new alert over 'club and country'

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The Independent Football

Speaking in Dubai at the Soccerex conference, football's highest-profile trade show, Kenyon called upon clubs to find a solution to the issue of compensation for players released on international duty, while in Milan the 18 clubs that make up G-14 met to discuss television rights and the format of the Champions' League.

That Kenyon's speech was timed to coincide with the G-14 meeting was a clear signal that while Chelsea may be excluded from a group that includes all the major players in Europe - Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Juventus, Milan and Real Madrid to name but six - for the world's wealthiest club it is business as usual.

Entry to G-14 needs the approval of all 18 clubs. The organisation was created in 2000 with the help of Kenyon when he was chief executive at Manchester United and then grew two years later to include Arsenal as well as three relatively low-profile new members in Bayer Leverkusen, Lyons and Valencia.

"We are members of Uefa's European Club Forum and so is everyone else," Kenyon said. "Yes, we have the stature to be there - as members of G14 - but, for whatever reason, we are not. It is one of those things. But this [releasing players for internationals] is a global club issue and it is right that it is discussed in a wider forum."

While some clubs have advocated governing bodies paying into an insurance fund to cover losses incurred over players injured on international duty, Kenyon is understood to back another option.

Chelsea would support a sliding scale where governing bodies with the ability to do so - such as the English Football Association - would make a contribution to players' wages. Under the scheme, others such as the Ivory Coast, for whom the Chelsea striker Didier Drogba plays his international football, would not have to contribute to a player's wages at all.

"There isn't one club I know who doesn't want to release players," Kenyon said. "But there are two tensions and they've been around as long as I have been in football. One is the international calendar and the other is the compensation. It must be within the brains of all us to find a solution.

"We've had only four players report to training at Chelsea after the weekend games, of whom two were injured. The rest were on international duty. We are not complaining about that but for the benefit of sport you cannot just keep piling games on top of each other."

Kenyon also dismissed the prospect of a European league to replace the Champions' League in order to give Europe's top clubs a greater share of television royalties.

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