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banner Friday, 23 November, 2001, 19:02 GMT
The power brokers
The G14 club counts Barcelona and Real Madrid among its members
Barcelona and Real Madrid are among G14's members
You may not have heard of them, but they are one of the most powerful forces in European football. Just who are the G14? World Football's Nigel Adderley investigates.

They choose to operate discreetly in some of the continent's upmarket hotels rather than charming the thousands who pack into Old Trafford or the San Siro.

But the G14 are the emerging force in European football.

It's guest list is impressive - 25 of the last 31 European Cups have been won by it's members.

And despite it's current low profile, the group looks set to become the most powerful player in European football - sooner than UEFA would like to think.

G14 has only been officially recognised as a pressure group for the past year.

But with Liverpool, Manchester United, AC Milan and Bayern Munich amongst the first to sign up it already has the clout to make things happen.
G14 head Thomas Kurth says UEFA should listen to the clubs
Thomas Kurth, head of the G14 group

"Our main objective is to have our opinions listened to." says the G14 head Thomas Kurth.

"The clubs can no longer be left out of the decision making process.

"It is UEFA's responsibility to organise their competitions which correspond to the needs and wishes of the clubs who play them".

The group corner the market in world class players.

Rivaldo, Owen, Beckham and Raul are all tied to member clubs but they deny self interest is at the root of their concerns.

Barcelona president Joan Gaspart told World Football "We speak on behalf of millions of fans and many many clubs around the continent.

"We cannot forget our roots - without the fans there are no clubs, no UEFA, no FIFA".

But it's difficult to deny money is at the heart of their collective.

A guaranteed place in the Champions League and the right to negotiate the marketing rights from Europe's top competition are currently top of their agenda.

We won't tolerate this situation again
G14 head Thomas Kurth on the club v country row
UEFA's initial response was chilly.

Chief Executive Gerhard Aigner described G14's views as "neither needed or helpful", but recently met with the group to discuss the future format of the competition.

Clearly the exisiting power-brokers feel they can no longer be ignored.

Although they publically deny it, the implicit threat of a breakaway league remains the G14's greatest bargaining tool.

And the recent club versus country row highlighted by France's controversial friendly in Australia clearly angered Kurth's men.

"We cannot allow this sort of situation to continue," he said.
'G14's views are unhelpful' - UEFA Chief Executive Gerhard Aigner
UEFA Chief Executive Gerhard Aigner says the G14 is unhelpful

"The clubs reluctantly released their players on this occasion but we need urgent talks with FIFA to resolve it. We won't tolerate it again."

The list of clubs trying to join the group is growing and contains names such as Celtic, Roma and Chelsea.

They view membership as a virtual guarantee of securing their future as part of Europe's elite.

The prospects for those left on the outside may not be so prosperous.

You can hear all of Nigel Adderley's report on G14 on World Football on Saturday 24 November. Check local listings for times.

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