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Sir Alex Ferguson
"I'd like to know what they propose before I commit myself"
 real 28k

Friday, 4 February, 2000, 10:00 GMT
Fergie backs foreign quotas

Sir Alex Ferguson (top): "I'm used to trebles"

Sir Alex Ferguson has given his qualified backing to quotas on foreign players in English football, hours after scooping a top book prize for his autobiography Managing My Life.

It certainly does warrant and merit great consideration
Sir Alex Ferguson
"I think it's worth considering," said the Manchester United boss, adding: "I'd want to know the facts.

"I'd like to know what they propose before I commit myself to something that would be very influential in our game at the moment, but it certainly does warrant and merit great consideration."

Pressure to limit the number of foreign signings to two per club stems from concern within the game that homegrown talent is being stifled by imported talent.

Managing My Life book launch Ferguson's award was greeted with boos
There are specific worries about the quality of players from non-European Union countries. It is felt that quotas would limit English clubs to signing only the very best players from outside the EU.

Ferguson said the limit of two players "sounds fair".

Fears that too many foreign signings are damaging the English game are such that the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League have all pitched into the debate.

But the suggestion of quotas has met with condemnation in some quarters.

There's no way we can do that against the European clubs...or non-EU players
Gianluca Vialli, Chelsea manager
Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli, who fields a teams consisting almost entirely of foreign stars, was particularly damning of the idea.

"If we want to compete when we play in Europe, there's no way we can do that against the European clubs if we don't allow continental players or non-EU players to join us," he said.

"The other teams would simply be too good for us."

Meanwhile, Ferguson has matched on-the-pitch success with literary acclaim.

His autobiography became the first sports volume to win the coveted Book of the Year prize - the publishing industry's equivalent of the Oscars.

I wrote 250,000 words of drivel and Hugh brought some style and meaning to it
Ferguson on co-author Hugh McIlvanney
The Old Trafford boss edged out Thomas Harris's Silence of the Lambs sequel, Hannibal, the autobiography of former prime minister John Major and 'Tis by Angela's Ashes author Frank McCourt.

Ferguson, who was greeted with good-natured boos when he collected his award, said: "I'm used to trebles

"I'm just so delighted to be nominated. That to me, was an achievement, and to get the award ..."

He also praised his co-author, Hugh McIlvanney, who helped turn the book into a bestseller.

"If the truth be told I wrote 250,000 words of drivel and Hugh brought some style and meaning to it," he said.

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