Taskforce plans strategy for transfer battle

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The game's newly formed transfer taskforce has divided up its responsibilities in the battle to save the existing transfer system, but the fight to win the political argument will be conducted on all fronts.

The game's newly formed transfer taskforce has divided up its responsibilities in the battle to save the existing transfer system, but the fight to win the political argument will be conducted on all fronts.

After last week's frantic series of meetings with two members of the European Commission, Vivian Reding and Mario Monti, plus Tuesday's discussions with EC officials, the six-man taskforce now has a clear indication of what proposals will be acceptable when it makes itsrecommendations to Brussels on 31 October.

The taskforce must now reach a compromise position which will be legally binding and bring much-needed stability to the sport.

Yesterday's first working meeting of the six-man group at Uefa headquarters in Switzerland went through the varying arguments within football circles. The taskforce will meet again next Tuesday.

In addition, three sub-committees have been set up to investigate legal and contractual matters, the economic arguments and the position of sport within the Treaty of Rome.

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, is the players' representative on the taskforce and he will be heavily involved in the last of these committees.

Taylor has long favoured the introduction of a special protocol for sport within EC legislation. The need for this was hinted at by both Reding and Monti last week, but it would have to have the backing of all 15 EU member states.

Both Britain and Denmark have previously been opposed to the concept, but Tony Blair appeared to relax his stance in his last week's joint statement with his German counterpart, Gerhard Schröder.

The Manchester United director Maurice Watkins will be a member of the working group looking into the legality of the contract situation.

There is broad agreement on the principle of a biannual transfer window, while the decision to ban international transfers for players under the age of 18 needs only to be rubber-stamped.The need for a compensation package to be introduced to fund the training and development of young players has also been accepted.

However, the major area of dispute still surrounds the transfer of players still under contract. This will be the main topic of discussion over the next seven weeks.

"We are not going to rush to final conclusions," the taskforce chairman, Per Ravn Omdal, said. "The timetable is tight but we are confident that we can produce solutions which will support the proper development of professional football in Europe."

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