Platini ready to "bury the hatchet" with G14

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BRUSSELS, Sep 20 (Reuters) UEFA president Michel Platini is ready to make peace with G14, which represents 18 of Europe's top clubs and has disagreed with soccer's authorities on several issues, Platini's special adviser said.

Last week, the group, which includes powerful clubs such as Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan, said it would expand to around 50 by the end of the year in a move it hopes will help resolve differences with soccer's governing bodies.

''President Platini sees the move as an opportunity to bury the hatchet and move on,'' William Gaillard told Reuters yesterda.

''If they take the approach they say they will, then we are willing to recognise them and their rights to have a say in the running of the game.'' Gaillard said that if negotiations went to plan, UEFA would consider offering the expanded version of G14 the job of running the organisation's influential ''club forum'' which UEFA uses to measure the views of its clubs.

''The president has always said there is a place for an independent club body within our organisation, like an association of clubs such as the leagues and players already have,'' Gaillard said.

Until now, FIFA and UEFA have failed to recognise or engage with the G14, saying the lobby group was elitist and did not represent the majority of clubs in Europe.

The two sides are at odds over issues such as the release of players for international duty and the international calendar. In the past Platini himself has fiercely criticised some of the views expressed by G14.

A row over compensation for players injured while playing for their countries has led to two court cases, one of which is pending at the European Court of Justice, Europe's highest court.

''The president feels that these issues are not rocket science.

They can be solved quite easily, but only in a democratic and balanced way,'' Gaillard said.

''G14 seem to recognise this now and I think bridges can start to be built.'' G14 general manager Thomas Kurth told Reuters last week that they had taken on board UEFA's concerns in deciding to expand in a bid to be representative of all clubs.

But last week's announcement by G14 was a little clouded by their decision to oppose Platini's plan to allow domestic cup winners to enter the Champions League.

''This is a separate issue. We do not hold anybody to ransom over specific issues. But we will also engage with them, should they come up with alternative proposals. That's democracy,'' Gaillard said.

Reuters BJR DB1017

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