Europe's most powerful clubs have reacted with caution to comments by the man who aspires to the presidency of European football's governing body, Michel Platini, that the Champions' League needs to be radically restructured.
Platini, who is widely tipped to take over the helm at Uefa at some stage, believes the Champions' League should return to being a pure knock-out tournament. But G14, the organisation representing 18 of Europe's richest clubs, including Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, warns that any such changes would require consultation with clubs to ensure fairness.
"It is important that the clubs be involved in any discussion of the future of the competitions, not just G14 but also the European Club Forum," the G14 spokesperson, Genevieve Berti, said. G14 were unhappy that they were not consulted fully over the most recent changes to the Champions' League, which will see the second group stage dumped in favour of earlier move into elimination next season. "Our opposition to the changes was the manner in which it was decided with no consultation with the clubs," she said.
Platini, however, is aware that such talks are necessary. "One must talk with the G14," said the former French international, who is the vice-president of the French Federation. "I am ready for each discussion, but underline the competition belongs to Uefa and not G14," he said, although he dismissed the possibility that the big clubs would dominate proceedings.
Berti, who said the key concerns for G14 would be footballing rather than financial, was pleased to hear about Platini's attitude. "At last someone has recognised us. That is far more than anyone in the football family, apart from Fifa president Sepp Blatter, has been prepared to do," she said. "Clubs are practical and if they know what the calendar is then they can tailor their financial plans to that."