SPFL chief Neil Doncaster lands new post with Uefa

SPFL chief executive and ex-Partick winger Bobby Barnes appointed to CEDB in bid for more diversity

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster, a solicitor to trade, is already a member of Uefa's Legal Committee. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster, a solicitor to trade, is already a member of Uefa's Legal Committee. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and former Partick Thistle winger Bobby Barnes are among six new appointments to the Uefa Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body (CEDB).

In a move which Uefa says will bring ‘more diversity’ to the operation of its disciplinary process, Doncaster and English PFA deputy chief executive Barnes will join the body from the start of the 2020-21 season.

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They are joined by three new female members – Swiss-based Romanian lawyer Madalina Diaconu, former German international striker Celia Sasic and Irish lawyer Aine Power who is deputy legal director of FEI, the International Federation for Equestrian Sports.

Julius Becker, legal counsel for German club Hamburg, completes the new additions to the CEDB whose existing ten members, chaired by Thomas Partl of the Austrian FA, are exclusively white and male.

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The manner in which the CEDB is composed from now on was changed at the Uefa Congress in March this year when it was agreed that the European Club Association, European Leagues and Uefa’s own administration team could join national associations in being able to propose new members.

Doncaster, a solicitor to trade, is already a member of Uefa’s Legal Committee and was put forward for inclusion on the CEDB by the European Leagues of which the SPFL, in its previous guise as the SPL, was a founder member. 
 Barnes, who was nominated by the English FA, became a cult figure among Partick Thistle fans when he had a brief spell at the Firhill club in the second half of the 1993-94 season.

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The Jamaican-born forward, who began his career at West Ham United, was sent off on his Thistle debut in a 5-1 defeat against Rangers at Ibrox. He made just seven appearances in total but was part of a squad which avoided relegation from the Premier Division on goal difference under manager John Lambie.

He has a Partick Thistle Supporters Club named after him – the Bobby Barnes was formed by four German students living near Firhill at the time and who still make annual visits to Glasgow to watch a Thistle match.

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Scottish clubs, most notably Celtic and Rangers, have become well acquainted with the CEDB in recent years due to the conduct of their fans. Celtic have racked up a long and costly charge sheet in European ties, while Rangers were forced to close a section of Ibrox for two European games last season. But Doncaster will play no part in ruling on any future misdemeanours by Scottish clubs. Any member of the CEDB with a potential conflict of interest is asked to step down from any case involving a team or individual from their own country or association.

The changes to the CEDB were announced at the conclusion of Uefa’s two-day executive committee video conference meeting.

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Uefa also revealed the registration date for players involved in the group stage of next season’s Champions League and Europa League is being extended until 6 October. They have asked all member associations to therefore ‘harmonise’ the closing of the summer transfer window to 
5 October.

Financial Fair Play regulations have also been amended to allow for the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the balance sheets of clubs taking part in European competitions.

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All clubs must prove by 31 July (instead of 30 June) and then 30 September that they have no overdue payables in terms of transfers, employee wages and tax obligations.

The break-even rule which applies to clubs being licensed to play in both the Champions League and Europa League is also being modified. The assessment of the 2020 financial year has been postponed and will be assessed together with the 2021 financial year.

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Uefa say the ‘adverse impact of the pandemic is neutralised by averaging the combined deficit of 2020 and 2021 and by further allowing specific 
Covid-19 adjustments’.

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