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UEFA president Platini reveals changes likely to ease rules that curb club spending on players

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GENEVA — UEFA is preparing to ease rules which limit how much Europe's top clubs spend on player transfers and wages.

President Michel Platini told French broadcaster RTL in comments aired Monday that the UEFA executive committee could relax some Financial Fair Play regulations.

Barely a year after UEFA fined big-spending Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain 20 million euros ($22.8 million) each for FFP violations, changes could be agreed at a June 29-30 meeting in Prague.

Launched by Platini in 2009, Financial Fair Play was once seen as a threat to expel high-profile clubs from the Champions League.

Instead, the project — which monitors accounts of all clubs that qualify for the Champions League and Europa League — has appeared to protect established clubs with worldwide commercial appeal from challenges by ambitious opponents with wealthy new owners.

The review was explained Monday as needed to "keep pace with the ever-changing football environment and the new challenges that this often poses."

"Any potential changes to the existing regulations will look to encourage more growth, more competition and market stimulation," UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said in a statement.

UEFA has had regular talks with European clubs since October about modifying rules which first sanctioned clubs last season for spending above their income from football business.

UEFA and the European Club Association declined to comment Monday on details of any proposals.

PHOTO: Manchester United's Radamel Falcao waves to supporters as he is substituted during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Manchester United's Radamel Falcao waves to supporters as he is substituted during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

One option could be allowing owners to invest more of their own money to chase or sustain success.

In 2009, Platini claimed support from some of Europe's wealthiest club owners — including at Chelsea, AC Milan and Inter Milan — saying they wanted to control spiraling spending.

The Milan clubs, which share the city-owned San Siro stadium, have since fallen behind rivals' commercial income and now fail to qualify for the Champions League.

In addition, the financial rules eventually detailed by UEFA were criticized for protecting high revenue clubs like Chelsea.

Man City and PSG were able to spend heavily signing players after being bought with sovereign wealth from Abu Dhabi and Qatar, respectively.

Both clubs were punished by UEFA in the first round of sanctions last May while winning their national league titles.

UEFA also imposed limits on the clubs' future transfer spending and salary bills, with further 20 million euro ($22.8 million) fines to be activated for breaches.

The threats appeared to block Man City's interest in signing Radamel Falcao from Monaco last offseason. PSG also ended attempts to sign Angel di Maria from Real Madrid.

Both players went to Manchester United which has greater commercial income from a longstanding global reputation.

In the latest sanctions announced this month, Inter was fined 6 million euros ($6.8 million) and Monaco was fined 3 million euros ($3.4 million).

Infantino cited a success of FFP in helping reduce financial losses for clubs by more than 75 percent since 2011.

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