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  Monday, 2 September, 2002, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
G14's Uefa u-turn
The Champions League draw
The Champions League draw will get smaller
World Football reports from Monaco as Europe┐s biggest clubs back down over Uefa's plans the new Champions League...

"It's war!" claimed the spokeswoman for the G14, the group of Europe's most powerful clubs this week.

The Chairman and Presidents of clubs like Manchester United and Juventus said they wouldn't let UEFA get rid of the second phase of the Champions League, because they weren't willing to lose 4 games and so lose money.

But over the past couple of days, we've seen a more conciliatory G14.
Players of clubs from the G14
G14 includes Manchester Utd and Real Madrid

"I think the position of clubs generally is an unwillingness to change the format" says Manchester United Chief Executive Peter Kenyon.

"We've been in many discussions with Uefa this week, it's unlikely they're going to change their mind and I think now clubs have got to concentrate on ensuring that processes are in place to have real meaningful dialogue with Uefa on what the outcome of the new 13-match format will be.

"There are a lot of things to discuss and many issues to address so that's where we'll put our attention.

"I think it's too strong to say that Europe's top clubs are at war with Uefa. There is concern, there is dissension, and Uefa know our position, but we are all committed to resolving the issues together".
Manchester United Chief Executive Peter Kenyon
Manchester United Chief Executive Peter Kenyon

And then, the G14 backed down completely, if reluctantly, proving they weren't really sure they could take on Uefa and win.

So the Champions league second phase goes, just as Uefa wanted.

So how much of a setback is this for Europe's top clubs, and have they been flexing their muscles a little too much?

"You can't say it's a setback" says G!4's chief Thomas Kurth.

"The clubs have expressed their views, they were against change, and they have found quite a lot of support from clubs outside G14.

"Obviously we are convinced that this is not a good move. But at the same time to seek confrontation at any price is not the spirit of G14.

"We are very direct and this may have created some bad feelings, but the clubs have now decided that they will accept it, but reluctantly".
G14 Chief Executive Thomas Kurth
G14 Chief Executive Thomas Kurth

Kurth denied that the current financial problems affecting club's television deals had weakened the G14's position.

"I don't think this has anything to do with any economic conditions" he said.

It's quite a come-down isn't it? I think it's bound to weaken the influence of the G14 and hearten Uefa.

Whatever Kurth says, with much of Europe's football seemingly in financial crisis, I wonder if G14 really thought they could go it alone. Maybe not.

You can hear all of Alan Green's report on the Champions League on World Football on Saturday 31 August. Use the audio link on the front page.


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