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Europe's governing body reveals two major changes...

UEFA have announced that the experiment using two extra match officials, first trialled in last season's Europa League, is to be extended next season to the Champions League and qualifying games for the 2012 European Championship.

The five-referee system garnered mixed reviews in its trials in Europe's second competition last season, but had already been extended for another two years before Thursday's announcement.

The extra officials will first appear in the playoff round of the Champions League, which will be played in August. Domestic football associations are also free to import the system into their own competitions.

UEFA also officially unveiled their Financial Fair Play regulations for European clubs, to come into full effect from 2012, which are designed to ensure all clubs compete without accruing huge debts or relying solely on a wealthy benefactor.

"We have worked on the Financial Fair Play concept hand-in-hand with the clubs, as our intention is not to punish them, but to protect them. We have an agreement with the clubs. The philosophy is that you cannot spend more money than you generate," UEFA president Michel Platini said. 
 
"This approval today is the start of an important journey for European football’s club finances as we begin to put stability and economic common sense back into football. I thank all the stakeholders who have supported this along the way."

The rules have certain strict requirements, primarily including a 'break-even requirement,' meaning "clubs must not spend more than they generate over a period of time."

Clubs will also no longer be able owe other clubs, employees or government authorities outstanding payments, and will also have to provide financial information to ensure they can meet any future costs.
 
"This really is a huge achievement," said Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the European Club Association (ECA).

"After only two years of existence, the European Club Association has managed, together with UEFA, to set measures that will shape the future of European club football into a more responsible business and ultimately a more sustainable one.

"As clubs, by fully supporting these Financial Fair Play Regulations, we have agreed to change the way we operate, and that is a substantial step forward."

The likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City, as well as other Premier League clubs could struggle to meet the demands of the new rules although the Premier League and FA have offered their backing to UEFA's decision.

"The FA and the Premier League are fully supportive of the principle of sustainability and of football clubs living within their means," a joint statement read.

"The vast majority of what has been agreed by UEFA is in line with current domestic regulations and English football will respect any rules put in place for clubs competing in Europe.

"We recognise the difficult task undertaken by UEFA in this process and we have asked that certain issues be monitored so as to ensure these rules do not create unintended consequences such as preventing smaller clubs from having the opportunity to invest the resources required to compete at a higher level."

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