UEFA is going after the big boys

Michel Platini

Uefa has sent out a warning to any club looking to cheat their Financial Fair Play rules. Manchester City and Chelsea need to get their respective houses in order.

The current FFP rules from Uefa state that a club cannot spend more that it generates and if it does, it will be excluded from all Uefa related competitions. Are they serious? Yes they are, just ask Malaga.

One way around the rules for big clubs that like to spend a lot of cash on players and ages is back door funding, which allows those clubs to use their owners and backers to pump additional cash into the club to compensate for inevitable losses.

Using Manchester City as an example, they announced a £400 million sponsorship deal with airline Etihad to brand their stadium, which is owned by the same investment group which owns the football club.

“When we first discussed FFP it was Chelsea [that attracted questioning], then you have Manchester City, then it was PSG. Our responsibility is to have a system that works for more than 630 clubs and not look at one club and neglect the rest. Each individual situation will be assessed very carefully,” said Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino.

This is not brand new news but what is, is the promise by Uefa to examine these sorts of sponsorship deals carefully to ensure that they are fair and not just an excuse for a club to inject themselves with fresh income.

The losses from all clubs under Uefa’s control between 2007 and 2011 reached a record figure of 1.7 billion Euros and the FFP measures are designed to turn those loss figures into profit.

Uefa is going to use two panels of individuals to scrutinise back door funding deals and it’s not just City that are under the magnifying glass with French giants Paris Saint-Germain also due to receive some extra attention.

It has to be done because if the gap between the rich and the poor in football is always massive, as it undoubtedly currently is, then there is effectively no chance for smaller clubs to make it up through the leagues and into the big time.

Not all clubs are perpetrators of back door funding with many clubs already re-examining their business models to try and at least break even; Arsenal and Liverpool have infrastructures designed to help them break even while Manchester United floated shares on the New York Stock Exchange to create extra revenue for the club.

It was a clear loophole which Uefa have done well to identify and target so quickly. The whole point of FFP is complete fairness across the board so if these back door funding deals go unscrutinised then expect to see all clubs doing it.

How do you think Uefa should go about this?

images: © Free-ers, © klearchos

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