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Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009

Man City held by Aston Villa

LONDON (AP) Ex-Manchester City captain Richard Dunne scored against his former club to earn Aston Villa a 1-1 draw in the Premier League on Monday night.

Dunne — reluctantly offloaded last month by City after nine years — headed in Stephen Warnock's 15th-minute corner, outjumping former Villa midfielder Gareth Barry.

But the Irish defender, still popular with City fans, did not celebrate the goal.

"I don't have a celebration — to score is usually a surprise," Dunne said. "Playing against a former club, players seem to score. I'm pleased as it gave us a good start to the game, but unfortunately we couldn't continue from there.

"City are a top side and will challenge for the top four."

City remained in the ascendancy after Dunne scored, but didn't manage to equalize until the 67th when Emmanuel Adebayor cut the ball back for Craig Bellamy to score with a powerful shot from close range.

The point lifted City to fourth, five points behind leader Chelsea with a game in hand.

Martin O'Neill's Villa, which has also beaten Liverpool this season, moved up to seventh.

"It's a very good start," Dunne said. "We believe we are able to push the top teams."

Garber speaks out

LONDON (AP) MLS commissioner Don Garber will tell European clubs this week that adopting U.S.-style financial controls could safeguard their futures and make for more competitive leagues.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Garber argued the merits of applying salary caps and spending limits universally — a case he will present to global sports leaders in London this week.

"I hope to present some of the experiences we have had in the MLS and in other leagues as perhaps, if not blueprint, a guide as European football starts looking at financial fair play," Garber said in a telephone interview ahead of this week's "Leaders in Football" conference. "That is the key driver to the stability that exists in our major leagues — and there is tremendous stability in American sport.

"I'm not so sure that same stability exists in football around the world."

The Union of European Football Associations already has taken steps to clamp down on spending, fueled by debt, at leading European clubs — notably Manchester United and Real Madrid.

UEFA's new rules would require clubs to break even and spend only what they earn from soccer-related income such as ticket sales and broadcast contracts.

In the MLS, players contracts are signed centrally and each team is subjected to a $2.3 million salary cap. A designated player, such as England midfielder David Beckham of the Los Angeles Galaxy have only $415,000 of his salary count against the cap.

"We tend to be very sophisticated about the business of sport and that sophistication has led to great success," Garber said. "The rest of the world tries to look at it to get a better understanding of sport, particularly as European football continues to (grapple) with the wealth gap. We still remain a niche sport and we have to make sure we are managing our business to be financially viable and long-term success is the key goal — that may or may not be the same objective that exists in Spain.

"If we don't manage our business very conservatively there is a fear we can go out of business and I'm not so sure they are faced with those issues in other parts of the world. The issue really is: Is it fair? That fairness is what drives the passion of sport. I think it's really smart for European football to start thinking about that."

There have been six different winners of the MLS since its inception in 1996, compared to three different Premier League champions in the same time span.

"We believe to our core that every fan wants to believe that when the season starts they have the tools, the capability, the resources to compete so they can dream about their team winning a championship," Garber said.

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