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Shot down

A couple of my best friends are Arsenal supporters, whilst I, in English terms at least, am of the Manchester United persuasion. That being the case, you might imagine that I’ve been giving them a hard time for the last 24 hours. But no, I haven’t. What happened yesterday was too serious for that, and not the stuff of petty asides. Man U and the Gunners have few things in common, buy there is this. Both generate their resources from within through the development of young players and shrewd trading. For all their American ownership, neither club has received injections of silly money, neither has been able to spend in the transfer market without sense and responsibility, or to pay players the sort of wages that  are quite frankly obscene.

I don’t agree with everything that Michel Platini has said and done since becoming president of UEFA, but I am a strong supporter of his Financial Fair Play rules, which will in a nutshell force clubs to trade within their turnover, more or less, with expulsion from European competition being the penalty for abuse of the system. Arsene Wenger has done a fantastic job at Arsenal for the last fifteen years. While Cesc Fabregas’s return to Barcelona was an emotional thing which most people understand and accept, it’s just not bloody right that his next best player should be snatched from him by the bottomless resources of Sheikh Mansour, or that Harry Redknapp should have to put up with his star man having his head turned by an agent whose eyes afre undoubtedly agleam at the prospect of commission on a £40m transfer fee from Abramovich’s Chelsea. Platini wants to make football clubs behave like responsible businesses. He wants to change a world in which, in 2009, top division European clubs made a staggering aggregate loss 0f 1.2 billion euro. Good luck to him.

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