Hopes rise for peace in transfer system dispute

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The Independent Online

Hopes for an amicable solution to the row over the future of the transfer system rose last night following a meeting in Strasbourg between the European Commission and representatives of Uefa, the European game's ruling body, and five of the continent's leading leagues.

Hopes for an amicable solution to the row over the future of the transfer system rose last night following a meeting in Strasbourg between the European Commission and representatives of Uefa, the European game's ruling body, and five of the continent's leading leagues.

The Commission has threatened to outlaw the system, arguing that it breaks European rules, but the EU's Sports Commissioner, Viviane Reding, said last night: "There's a genuine will to work together towards a new system and get a result as soon as possible."

The EU has extended its deadline for the football authorities to submit proposals until the end of next month. Uefa will host a first meeting of a working group to draw up the plans next Tuesday. It will include Fifa (the world governing body), Uefa, leagues, associations and players' unions.

Earlier, Reding had accused the media and football authorities of misrepresenting the Commission's policy. "The Commission in no way intends to abolish the transfer system, nor to create a position which would allow a player unilaterally to renege on a contract," she said. "Compensation is justified when a player terminates his contract with one club to move to another. To avoid distorting championships, the Commission is clearly ready to accept rules which would mean that transfers could only take place within a given period of time."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Tony Blair said yesterday that the Prime Minister had received a "very positive, very encouraging" response from Gerhard Schröder when he took up football's case with the German Chancellor at the United Nations summit in New York, which both men are attending.

In London a meeting of Premier League chairmen agreed to support "a robust defence of the strengths of the current transfer system". The meeting deferred discussion on a change to the distribution of money from new television contracts.

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