Limiting spending a bad idea: English FA

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Football Association chief executive Ian Watmore opposes UEFA's planned restrictions on signing players.

Updated: August 09, 2009 12:51 IST
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Football Association chief executive Ian Watmore opposes UEFA's planned restrictions on signing players, arguing that the Premier League is improved by clubs like Manchester City spending heavily to strengthen their squads.

European football's governing body is trying to implement rules that would force teams to make transfer fees and players' salaries proportionate to their income as a condition for entry to the Champions League.

However, Watmore has dismissed those plans as unfeasible and unenforceable.

Signaling a clear split from UEFA's vision of financial fair play, Watmore approves of Man City's spending strategy, funded by its Abu Dhabi owners, and says he would like to see it repeated elsewhere in the Premier League.

"Anything that makes the competition stronger and more deep, I think has got to be welcomed," said Watmore, who took over at the FA two months ago. "We don't want to see the Premier League becoming a top four procession every year.

"If in the process of the new money coming into Manchester City _ and some interesting, I think different strategies that people like Aston Villa are adopting _ we can get to seven or eight clubs that realistically have a chance of breaking into the top four, it can only strengthen the Premier League, which is to our mutual advantage."

Watmore doesn't want restrictive measures implemented in England that will force businessmen to instead fund foreign clubs.

"This is a global market and I'd rather have the strongest league here on these shores, which is what I think we have today, then I would see it move to somewhere else," Watmore said. "So, if people are going to bring their money into the game, then let's have it here in this league and make the Premier League even stronger than it is today."

It is a counter view to that shared by UEFA president Michel Platini and FA chairman David Triesman, who have both expressed concerns about unchecked spending and mounting levels of debt consuming football clubs in the midst of a global economic crisis.

Watmore said any debt accrued is only an issue for the club involved.

"Am I am worried about it? I don't think so at this time," he said. "And the reason for that is because it's individual clubs that have to look after their own finances and the leagues then administer the financial regime."

Premier League defending champion Manchester United has debts of more than $1 billion, while Chelsea's obligations to owner Roman Abramovich from his interest-free loans are in excess of $560 million.

Platini wants new financial controls imposed to curb excessive spending by clubs and help secure their long-term future. These rules are set to be finalized by UEFA's executive committee in September, leading to a phased introduction over two to three years.

"How do you determine it?" asked Watmore. "Manchester City, well, what is their income? How big is it? How much is their owner prepared to put in?

"Do you start to think about income in terms of gate receipts and television money, or do you think of it in terms of infusions of capital and cash from the owners, and it gets to very difficult areas. One of the good maxims in this area, if you are going to administer rules like this, (is): 'They've got to be enforceable and manageable.' And I think these things get very hard when you go below the surface."

Man City has spent about 100 million pounds ($167 million) in the offseason to strengthen its squad, signing forwards Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez in a bid to challenge for a first English league title since 1968.

By contrast, crosstown rival Manchester United, which has won the last three Premier League titles, has spent barely 20 million pounds _ a quarter of what Real Madrid paid for star player Cristiano Ronaldo.

Watmore argues that this is merely "market forces at play."

"As long as they operate within the rules of their leagues, then I think for now we should manage it through and see where we get to as the economy unwinds," Watmore said.

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