Rangers director McClelland takes key role at body for Europe's clubs

FORMER Rangers chairman John McClelland has been appointed as a vice-chairman of the European Club Association, which has succeeded the now defunct G14 group.

A day after naming a 15-man board at its inaugural general assembly at Uefa headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, the ECA appointed Karl-Heinz Rummenigge as its chairman. Ibrox director McClelland was joined as one of three vice-chairmen by AC Milan's Umberto Gandini and Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

Michel Centenaro moves over from the Uefa competitions department to take over the role as general secretary.

Laporta said his role would be to strengthen the clubs' relationship with Uefa and Fifa and the European Union.

"It's vital that the clubs have a role in the decision-making process of football," he said. "We must have a better calendar in terms of releasing players for national teams and avoid too many friendlies."

Rummenigge, the 52-year-old two-time European footballer of the year, had been acting chairman since the founding of the ECA.

The ECA used its first meeting to oppose Fifa's controversial 6+5 proposal aimed at restricting the number of foreign players in starting line-ups.

The ECA said in a statement that its 103 members had "strongly endorsed the stance" taken by Rummenigge and Laporta after talks last month with EU Commissioner Vladimir Spidla. "In ECA's view, there is no necessity for a 6+5 rule, and the organisation favours instead Uefa's 'home-grown' approach," the statement added. Fifa president Sepp Blatter, pictured, has personally championed the 6+5 proposal which would limit clubs to fielding just five foreign players at the start of a match.

Blatter has argued that his idea would strengthen national teams and prevent wealthy clubs from hoarding the best international players.

Uefa, which governs European football, has argued that the proposal is in conflict with EU labour laws on the free movement of workers within the bloc.

Uefa's rival 'home-grown' plan, which is already in force in its own Champions League competition, instead requires every club squad to include a minimum number of locally trained players.

Unlike Fifa's proposals, the Uefa version does not place any restrictions on those players' nationalities.

The ECA's 103 clubs are selected purely on their Uefa ranking, with at least one member from each national association.

Higher ranked associations send more representatives, with England, Spain and Italy all having five clubs in the body's general assembly.

Meanwhile, one football stadium in South Africa is unlikely to be completed in time for the Confederations Cup, the Fifa World Cup Committee said yesterday.

In a development likely to spur more questions about whether South Africa will be prepared to host the 2010 World Cup, the Port Elizabeth stadium will not be used for the Confederations Cup, a test tournament to be staged in the country in June.

Fifa general-secretary Jerome Valcke cited technical problems with the roof, but said the venue would be ready for the World Cup.

Two weeks ago, Blatter confirmed for the first time that a plan exists to move the World Cup in the event of a natural catastrophe. Valcke would not comment on where the World Cup could be moved. He said a "Plan B" was particularly necessary because canceling the tournament at the last minute would prevent Fifa from raising World Cup funds necessary to hold other tournaments.

"If something happens in a country that is out of your control ... the you must somehow have a way of saving the event and saving the value of the event," Valcke said. The 2010 tournament has been plagued by stadium construction delays, transport problems, the possibility of power outages and security fears, leading to concerns the first World Cup set in Africa might have to be shifted to another country.

More than 50 people are killed every day in South Africa, according to government statistics. Last week in Pretoria, Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula said levels of crime "continue to be unacceptably high."

However, Danny Jordaan, the chief executive officer of the South African 2010 organising committee, said the negative speculation comes hand-in-hand with hosting a major international event, noting Greece had undergone similar criticism before it held the 2004 Olympics.

"We must not be too sensitive," he said. "We'll be ready."