Financial Fair Play - Blackburn Rovers in the crosshairs

Ewood Park

Blackburn Rovers managing director admits that they could be one of the clubs punished by new Financial Fair Play Regulations, and QPR have reason to be worried too.

The Financial Fair Play Regulations have become a key topic within the Football League and many sides agree with the system being set up. There are going to be initial causalities and according to Blackburn Rovers managing director Derek Shaw that could possibly start as early as next year.

Blackburn Rovers are one of the main culprits in breach of Financial Fair Play. Their announced losses for last year were £27 million. It didn’t help that they spent £3.5 million on agent fee’s which is extremely extortionate and also went through FIVE managers. Shaw was quoted as saying ‘’If we are promoted I think we’ll have a substantial fine and, if we’re not promoted at this stage, we’ll probably have an embargo’’.

It is incredible to comprehend that Blackburn’s finances are so poor that even promotion into the Premier League is unlikely to save them from the FFP regulations.

The aim of the FFP is to stop clubs from over-spending. A lot of clubs have been hit by money troubles recently. Some clubs finances have been so poor that they have simply been bled dry and unable to compete which has resulted in their demotions through the divisions. Coventry City and Portsmouth are prime examples, Coventry don’t even have their own stadium anymore which is sad to see, especially when I remember them being well supported at Highfield Road.

By the 2015/2016 season, losses in the Championship can be no more than £5 million and shareholders are only allowed to invest £3 million of their own cash.

Clubs who are simply spending too much and can’t see a quick way of getting out the firing line of the regulations are likely to cause a stir in the next few months. There are a lot of sides in the division that will need to alter their mentality and quickly if they’re to comply with the rules being set in place.

QPR will undoubtedly HAVE to be promoted this season to escape a reprimand from the Football League. They have perhaps one of the most expensive assembled squads this division has ever seen with players like Joey Barton, Bobby Zamora and Julio Cesar who will be on mind-blowing money for this level. In fairness they have trimmed their squad and have managed to loan out other large earners like Park Ji-Sung, Adel Taarabt, Loic Remy and Esteban Granero.

Leicester have been walking into the firing line for a few years now but have slightly derailed their plan of chucking money at a problem and hoping for the best. This season they have been cautious with their spending, allowing a lot of large earners leave and barely bringing anyone in.

Despite speculation Nigel Pearson would be sacked after a mental ending to the play-off semi-final last season, which saw them miss a penalty in the last minute and Watford charge up the other end of the pitch and score straight away. The owners kept their finger off the trigger and they will still be optimistic about their chances, especially after their start to the season.

The most curious case of defiance against Financial Fair Play is Nottingham Forest. They have ambitious foreign owners that have set about a promotion at all cost mentality, sacking 3 managers within their first year at the club but finally looking settled with Billy Davies in charge.

Despite only selling one player for a significant fee and not entitled to parachute payments they went about throwing relatively fairly large wads of cash. They signed Ex-Premier League players in Jamie Mackie (around £1 million), Gonzalo Jara (free) and Eric Lichaj (free). They brought in Walsall’s most talented player in Jamie Paterson for in excess of £1 million, and 2 former European competitors in Djamel Abdoun (around £2 million) and Kelvin Wilson (around £2.5 million ). They have also been quoted recently as submitting a bid of up to the value of £4 million for Wolves winger Bakary Sako.

They haven’t officially confirmed their current position on the Financial Fair Play situation but a tweet from Billy Davies advisor Jim Price said ‘’FFP rules are illegal and unworkable’’. 

There are a few other teams which could potentially fall in between the FFP crosshairs if they’re not careful.

The ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ will be forever arguing whether these regulations are fair. The teams that want to spend money will obviously be limited to what they can do, and their fans will be far from happy about that in the short term. The teams that don’t have the money to spend, or don’t want to invest heavily into the club will be glad that the playing field will potentially be smaller with only teams with parachute payments having the advantage and not the ones with money throwing owners.

I personally think FFP in the short term will be more detrimental to the health of some clubs like Blackburn, who will have to effectively throw players out of the club because they afford to keep them on, which will obviously make them weaker.

It is hard to feel bad for these clubs because they’ve been spending well above their means and have made their own bed, so therefore should lie in it.

I think in the long term once it gets into the full swing of things, and clubs are adhering to the rules. They can gauge what their game plan will be and go from there, only then it will be beneficial in the long term.

It enhances the emphasis on having a productive academy and will indirectly make clubs pay more attention to their youth set up than previously before. The main reason for these regulations will of course be the most beneficial thing in the future. Relying on outside sources for stability is always a risk, and therefore this will minimise the number of clubs that effectively hit financial troubles once the money dries up.

What is your opinion on the Financial Fair Play Regulations, are they good for the game or bad?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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