The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) financial fair play (FFP) was conceived in 2010. The question is: has it really made a difference since its inception? Let’s have a quick look at what FFP actually is and what has happened since.
UEFA Financial Fair Play was designed to ensure clubs that had qualified for UEFA competitions had no overdue payments to other clubs or their players or social/tax authorities throughout the season. Seems pretty straight forward; pay your bills and you can compete.
In 2013, clubs were also been assessed on break-even requirements. This was a requirement for all clubs competing in UEFA competitions and was established to ensure clubs don’t spend too much more than their revenue. Simple.
Then, in 2015 this was expanded to all clubs who sought to compete in UEFA competitions in the future. Again, pretty straight forward; ensure clubs do not over spend or amount to much debt..
One thing to note, is that these assessments are carried out every three years and not on a year to year basis. Clubs still can exceed their break-even by up to $9,000,000 AUD per year, for the three year period. Interestingly, UEFA has allowed another limit on this again of up to $52,000,000 AUD, as long as it is covered by a club owner or a related party. In addition, any money spent on the following are excluded from the calculation as they help develop other facets of the game. This includes:
- Training Facilities
- Youth Development
- Women’s football
The above would appear quite obvious and a basic principle of managing finances and perhaps something many of you know already. (For further info you can visit: https://www.uefa.com/community/news/newsid=2064391.html).
So, why the focus? We currently have 2 teams who seem to be able to find loop holes in these rules consistently; that being Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
Let’s talk about City. Since its take over by Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited in late 2008 in a deal worth about $354,000,000 AUD, Manchester City has been one of the biggest spenders in Europe. They have spent $2.47 billion AUD on players and $2.83 billion AUD on player wages since the takeover; which is not inclusive of the current 2018/19 seasons spending’s. Now Manchester City has made roughly $1.77 billion AUD on player sales, sponsorships and prize money, (TV rights inclusive). Doing the maths, this still leaves 3.53 billion AUD to recoup before Sheikh Mansour starts seeing a proper ROI.
I am completely aware of the above rules (well, I think I am anyway), and that FFP is conducted on a three year basis. But, if we look at the bigger picture, Manchester City has spent well over the ‘break-even’ requirements to end up with the figures above. They haven’t just banged the door down, they’ve bulldozed the entire block….
So this begs the question, what have they been fined in return? Well for their breach in the 2011/12 and 2012/13 season’s it was:
- 21 man European squad cap, down from 25 (big woop)
- $86,000,000 AUD fine (pfft, poket change for Mansour)
- Maximum losses of $35,000,000 AUD in 2014 and $17,000,000 AUD in 2015 (did someone say cover up?)
- Cap of $86,000,000 AUD on player transfers for the summer transfer market
For any non ‘big club’, this would cause some serious financial hardship. However for a club like Manchester City, did it really change their fortunes in the 2014/15 season? They were still able to finish second in the premier league and then knocked out in the round of 16 in the champions league, losing to Barcelona. So some, including myself, would say no; City’s future and fortune were not damaged.
Where do we go from here? No where really. Unfortunately, the greatest sport in the world is run by corrupt money hungry old men who say they want to preserve the game, but all they seem to want to do is maintain a ‘big club status quo’. This makes it near impossible for a smaller club to break into the group, (thank God for Leicester City!).
Leaked information alleging a cover up of the losses from 2011/12 and 2012/13 season, could see Manchester City walking a very fine line in the current season. Let’s wait and see if any more than a slapped wrist will come of this while Sheik Mansour greases the pockets of UEFA.
So, I propose a solution; any team that is owned by an oil tycoon must exit all competitions and start their own league. A league where the owners can just spend whatever they like without regulations. Perhaps this isn’t the ideal solution, but I’m yet to see any other propositions.
Finally, I apologise that this article has turned into somewhat of a rant, but our game is being destroyed by people that have no interest in football and only an interest in money. The more we talk about it, the more something might happen, (or not…).