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Last Updated: Friday, 26 January 2007, 18:24 GMT
Ferguson warns new chief Platini
Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson believes the Champions League format must stay in place
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has warned newly elected Uefa president Michel Platini not to revamp the Champions League format.

Platini wants to cut each country's maximum number of Champions League places from four to three.

But Ferguson said: "The tournament really starts in February, but I think it is OK the way it is at the moment.

"The appeal of the Champions League is when the giants of Spain or Italy or England come up against each other."

If he wants to take a Champions League place away from us that is to the detriment of the Premiership

Sam Allardyce

Platini won an election in Dusseldorf to replace 77-year-old Swede Lennart Johansson as European football's most powerful figure.

One of Platini's main proposals was the change to Champions League qualification.

Ferguson said: "The Champions League has been good. If you go back a few years, there were maybe too many games with two qualifying groups because you had to play about 17 games to win it.

"If you take away the fourth-place teams, the only way to address that is by reducing the competition or by giving other countries two places."

606 DEBATE: Your thoughts on Platini's appointment?

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger welcomed Platini's appointment, but was not sure about his plans for the Champions League.

"It is the first time that a player is in charge," he said.

"We in football complain always that the players have no say, so at least we cannot complain anymore.

"What is happening today is that two go directly in and two have to qualify against the teams in the smaller countries.

"What will happen when the smaller teams go one round further and go out early in a group stage? The competition will lose interest, that is all that will happen.

"I believe that the competition should be organised with the best teams playing each other.

"What people want to see is the best teams on television, to see Real Madrid against Arsenal, or Milan against Bayern Munich, that will not change."

Bolton manager Sam Allardyce said he felt his team could be one of the victims of Platini's proposals.

"In one way it is nice to see a football man in charge," he said.

"But on the other hand if he wants to take a Champions League place away from us that is to the detriment of the Premiership.

"If he can get away with that it is going to bring a lot of heartache to our league. It would be a big blow.

"It gives us virtually no chance whatsoever of qualifying for the Champions League."

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate, meanwhile, claims Platini's hope of establishing a salary cap in football is desirable but unworkable.

He said: "A salary cap generally or teams having a salary cap would, there is no question, make it a better and tighter league.

"But we have to be realistic and in the modern world, people would always find a way around it.

"Unfortunately, I suspect that would be a bit of a non-starter."



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