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UEFA demands vote of support in face of G14 challenge

Written by: Staff
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BUDAPEST, Mar 22 (Reuters) UEFA, facing a fight for supremacy with Europe's richest clubs, will demand its member countries demonstrate their support for soccer's status quo at tomorrow's Congress.

UEFA's executive committee decided at a two-day meeting it would present a motion to its 52 member associations asking them to pledge their support for soccer's current structures and competitions.

''I think we have to demonstrate what loyalty means and ask Congress for a statement showing what football is and what we believe in,'' UEFA CEO Lars-Christer Olsson told reporters.

UEFA president Lennart Johansson said that so great was the challenge posed by G14, a grouping of 18 of Europe's richest clubs, that he might reconsider his intention to retire in 2007.

''I don't know if I will be making any announcement about that tomorrow,'' the 76-year-old Swede said today. ''With all this turbulence going on I want to see how things develop.

''I would certainly like to just go fishing and there would be many advantages to go and do what I want to do.

''But I like to think I have played a part in the development of this game over the past 19 years and I don't like the thought of seeing all that destroyed.'' G14, whose members include Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and Juventus, is pitted against UEFA, world governing body FIFA and the national associations in a court case in Charleroi, Belgium.

G14 wants the regulations surrounding the compulsory release of players for international matches changed, and clubs to be compensated if players are injured playing for their countries.

It also wants executive representation within UEFA and more cash from the game's governing bodies, including from the European Championship and World Cup. It has denied it wants to set up a breakaway elite league in Europe.

REVENUE CARVE-UP UEFA's executive committee said the distribution of revenue for the 2006/2007 Champions League would remain unchanged, with 75 percent going to the participating clubs.

The remaining 25 percent is reserved for European football in general, covering so-called ''solidarity payments'' to other clubs, associations and leagues as well as UEFA's own organisational costs.

The executive committee also announced that any surplus to its Champions League revenue estimates of 750 million euros (905 million dollar) would be used to finance a planned increase of around 10 million to clubs who fail to make it past the qualifying stages of the competition.

''I think there is already more than enough money being distributed to the top clubs, as can be seen from the fact that it is always the same clubs every year who make it through to the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final,'' Johansson said.

''We are not surprised with how the Charleroi case has developed because we know the mission of these (G14) clubs.

''It is to our advantage that they are now showing their cards, because we now know how they plan to fight and how we have to fight back.'' Johansson said he would like potential candidates for the four-year presidency to step forward over the next few months.

He has heard nothing official about an expected candidacy from former European Championship winner Michel Platini of France and said he would not be endorsing any candidate when he does decide to step down.

REUTERS PDS KN2146

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