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BBC Five Live's Gordon Farquhar
"Sepp Blatter says there is light at the end of the tunnel"
 real 14k

Sepp Blatter, Fifa president
"We must have the whole family of Fifa united"
 real 14k

Friday, 6 October, 2000, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Transfer D-day put off
Blatter
Fifa president Sepp Blatter says it is difficult to find a resolution
World and European footballing officials have failed to produce a comprehensive proposal for a new player transfer system which brings the abolition of the old system closer.

The EC have only given them until the end of the month to come up with a viable and legal system to replace the current one, which they say is a restraint of trade.

A Transfer Task Force set up by world body Fifa and its European counterpart Uefa said it had yet to finalise its stance regarding players aged over 23.

But the task force did formulate plans to ban transfers for players under 18 and set up a compensation system that reimburses clubs who bring through young players but lose them to other teams before the age of 23.

The European Commission (EC) has given football until the end of the month to come up with ideas on how to change the current transfer set-up.

It believes the system, whereby clubs can demand a transfer fee for any player who leaves before his contract is up, breaks European laws on free competition and workers' freedom of movement.

Understanding

The task force, which also includes representatives from national football associations, leagues, clubs and players, will meet again on October 12 in Zurich to see if it can reach agreement regarding players aged over 23.

"There was a great deal of understanding but the matter is not an easy one to deal with," said Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

The task force's Norwegian chairman Per Ravn Omdal, a Uefa vice-president and Fifa executive committee member, said all sides were eager to come up with a joint position and that talks so far had been constructive.

"I am confident we shall reach something which is beneficial to the game," he said.

Blatter said he and Uefa president Lennart Johansson had also agreed to start lobbying European Union heads of state to see if they could persuade them to make the EU treat athletes like other entertainers such as opera singers or actors.

The current deadline, however, gives them little time to drum up any considerable support.

BBC Sports News correspondent Gordon Farquhar said: "The pressure's mounting on Fifa now to find a solution to the EC's demands for radical changes to the transfer system.

"The announcement about areas of consensus shouldn't disguise the fact that the fundamental problem, what to do with players over 24 when they move clubs remains unresolved.

"Clearly, a compromise must be struck. A recent statement of intent from the self-styled G-14 group of clubs in Europe seemed to be calling for maintenance of the status quo.

"The spending power of the mega clubs distorted the market to the point that even the Eurocrats became anxious. The top clubs want to avoid having millions wiped off their balance sheets but it's hard to see how that can be avoided.

"If they have to swallow the bitter pill of accepting the value of their playing squad will be slashed, they want the compensation of longer contracts....but the players unions won't stand for that.

"A proper row is in the offing. That won't please Fifa who're desperate to put on a united front to the EC so their proposals will be accepted without modifications.

"Perhaps if Fifa had begun these negotiations within the football family back in December 1998, when the EC informed them the transfer system was under scrutiny, then the growing sense of panic could have been avoided."

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