Financial Fair Play – UEFA’s Way to Erase Competitiveness


In years gone by Billionaires have seen Football, or at least some leagues as a way to create the very best team, full of superstars that compete on a European Level year in year out, like Man City, Chelsea or PSG. 5 Years ago Michel Platini introduced a plan to stop this, and make Football fairer (or what he seen as fairer) by putting in place the Financial Fair Play Rules – this as you all know stops teams like Man City, PSG, Barcelona etc outspending others by hundreds of millions, and keeping everyone as close as possible, making sure no team would dominate world football by simply buying success – there is a flaw with that anyway, but we will come onto that in a later.

Recently, 76 of the 200+ team competing in Europe were investigated for breaking these rules, and in the past few days these investigations have revealed the ones who have been punished. 9 teams in total have been had a range of restrictions and fines placed upon them. Man City and PSG have been fined £48.8m each, some of which is suspended, as well as having their spending and wage budgets controlled, and having squad sizes in next years competition reduced to just 21 players. Man City seem to think they have done nothing wrong, despite losing over £400m in the past 3/4 seasons, and the FFP rules state you may only lose around £50m a season. Arsene Wenger style blindness from City there…

Why both PSG and City were fined, on top of the losses, is the fact they have tried to circumvent these rules by securing massive sponsorship deals, both with practically their owners own company – at 140m Euro’s a season for PSG and £40m a season for Man City. Both have been deemed be over the fair market value, and part of the reason why they have been given such punishments.

The other teams to be punished are Levski Sofia (Bulgaria), Galatasaray, Bursaspor and Trabzonspor (Turkey) and Rubin Kazan, Anji and Zenit (Russia) – and in the cases of Turkish and Russian teams – all have been guilty of massive overspending – Anji have actually been relegated after their spending spree failed, and their owner pulled out most funding. Zenit spent millions on Hulk, Witsel and more, Rubin spent a load of money on Rondon and Yann M’vila. Turkey has also seen a rise in transfer fee’s – Wesley Sneijder joining Galatasaray from Inter Milan for a fair amount of money.

The question is – Will these Billionaire owners get fed up of being restricted as to what they can spend? Will a group of the biggest clubs in World Football say “Sod you Platini, We are forming our own league with no financial restrictions”? Even if as little as 20 teams did this, they could form their own super league, and be done with the days of penny pinching to meet regulations. And if this happened – what would become of the rest? The Champions League is the most watched Cup in the world, and if all the top teams went off somewhere else, would the Sponsors and TV companies pay extortionate money for 2nd rate players and clubs like Southampton, Augsburg or Vitesse to contest the greatest prize in Football? (No offence meant to those mentioned, but if say the top two/three teams went from England, Spain, France, Germany, Holland and Germany, these teams could well be in the Champions League!)

Unfortunately I think not, it could turn into a scenario like Rugby League and Union – two different forms of the games with their own separate rules, but the one with bigger, better clubs and players will ultimately draw most money. What would it do to lower leagues? Less money is the obvious answer, and less attention if the FA Cup was on, even less TV time for those in the lower leagues. But I don’t think it will come to that, because in a way the FFP rules just make the big teams richer, and the route to Europe easier…and here’s why:

  • You can only spend within your means – so a team like Cardiff City will earn less than half the amount a Man City or Chelsea would.
  • Therefore a City or Chelsea have twice the amount to spend.
  • In order to get upto the level the top teams are at already, and compete financially, you have to spend a lot of money, which is now punishable by expulsion.
  • So – even if a QPR or Southampton did spend £150m on players and wages to get into the Champions League or Europa League, they would then be punished, fined and probably thrown out, making spending beyond your means counter-productive.

In short – these new rules will stop any team trying to do what the rich have done in the past, it will make buying a club in the Premier League or any other top league seem pointless to billionaires out there, therefore the current crop who are up there will take some stopping, maybe a miracle.

If a team such as Newcastle find a gem as they do on the cheap, and he does well, lets say a Yohan Cabaye, they cannot afford to resist offers like the one that took him to PSG of £20m+. Any player with aspirations will see that Newcastle won’t ever compete for Champions League places often enough to merit them being there, so will go to bigger clubs, leaving Newcastle with a handful of cash but a world class player down.

UEFA have just introduced the only way to stop smaller teams competing. Yes they maybe saving clubs from going bankrupt, like a Portsmouth, Leeds or maybe soon QPR, but they have also stopped anyone from ever challenging, because the bigger teams can still spend much more and buy any player from the teams not in Europe, erasing any possible threat they could posses.

I do wonder why they were called the “Financial Fair Play Rules”. There is nothing fair about them.