In less than a year, UEFA will impose their ‘Financial Fair Play’ rules, with the aim of establishing a level monetary playing field for every team in Europe. However, writer Tom thinks he can prove that it will have the opposite effect – read on to find out how…

UEFA Financial Fair Play against small clubs

As I am sure you are aware by now, UEFA will be introducing the new Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules across Europe, starting in the 2012-13 season.'  For those of you who don’t know, what that basically means is that from the 2012-13 season, club’s spending will be directly linked to their income.

Cash-rich owners will only be able to soak up an aggregate ˘€š¬45M of debt over the first three year period which would fall to ˘€š¬30M over the three years from 2015.'  After that adjustment period, clubs will have to break even.'  At first, this seemed to me like a very sensible, rational thing to do.

Forcing clubs to be run more sustainably, live within their means.'  Fair enough.'  But actually, when you look beneath the surface, you realise that FFP is utterly, fundamentally wrong.
UEFA Financial Fair Play against small clubs
Foreign Ownership – not always a success story…

The cynic in me might suggest that FFP is merely an anti-English measure imposed by Platini; an attack on the free spending habits of the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea in recent times.

Is this fair?'  Maybe not. But Platini is the man who famously said of Manchester United and Chelsea, Ĺ›It is those who cheat to winĹĄ back in 2008 when talking about the debt levels in the English game.'  He went on to laud the Barcelona ownership system, whereby the fans own the club; no word on the huge debt levels at Real Madrid or Valencia or the combined £2.5BN debt in the Spanish game at the time – it wouldn’t be the first time his Anglophobia had been called into question.

Pet peeves aside, the main problem with FFP is that it prevents smaller clubs from growing.'  A sugar daddy can't simply fund the growth of a club anymore.

UEFA Financial Fair Play against small clubs
Chelsea bought success – but that success now brings more money in to the club.

For example, if Abramovich had bought Chelsea while FFP was in place, there is no way that they would be the force in world football that they are today.'  Yes, Chelsea made staggering record losses of £140M at one point, but if it’s being soaked up by Abramovich, what’s the problem?

How many Chelsea supporters wish that Abramovich had not bought the club way back in June 2003 because what followed was not ‘rational financial behaviour’?

Titles bring financial gain and club growth in the form of more tickets sold, more fans, higher sums from TV rights and Champions League football.

What followed at Chelsea followed was;

– 3 Premier League titles

– 3 FA cups

– 2 League cups

– 1 Champions League final.

Would fans prefer the club to live within it's means or win lots of trophies?'  For 99.9% of people, it would be the latter.

UEFA Financial Fair Play against small clubs
Will Man City be the last club to escape the Financial Fair Play ‘cutoff’?

The effect of this; FFP will consolidate the places of those at the top of the European elite for the next century.'  Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, the clubs with the biggest revenue streams from things like tickets and shirt sales are guaranteed to stay as the elite in European football.

The Elite clubs will continue to dominate European football; they will be able to afford the highest transfer fees, buy the best players, pay the highest wages.'  And with no way of clubs growing, FFP will only serve to benefit those at the top of the football ladder.

So, thanks to Platini, we can look forward to a century of football dominated by the same teams.'  The same pool of teams will win the major trophies every year.'  The same teams will reach semi-finals and finals of the Champions League every year.'  You get the picture.'  There will be no more Manchester City stories, a club's fortunes transformed by the vast wealth of a new owner, the anticipation of thousands of fans – neutral and otherwise, shock transfers and so on.

Financial fair play will ruin football.

Thank you Mr.Platini.

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  1. says: Bishopville Red

    So, you actually think placing the finances of your club on the whim of a sugardaddy is a GOOD thing?  More clubs have been decimated by sugardaddies who didn’t have the sugar than survived because of a philanthropic billionaire.  What would happen to Chelsea if Abramovich pulled out (or, heaven forbid, passed away) tomorrow?  Same thing that happened to Blackburn when Jack walker died; they’d be lucky if relegation was as bad as it got.

    For every Chelsea success, there’s a West Ham and Liverpool (Gillett / Hicks) disaster.

    The Platinis of the world are quick to laud Barçelonas of the world and dump on the Manchester Uniteds for their massive debt (and you accurately pointed out the hypocrisy of that), but much of MUFC’s success came under a PLC model which employed a more stringent financial expectation on the club re: turnover to player investment ratio than anything FFP has come up with.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but there was always an elite pool of football clubs in Europe.  Some have emerged, others have faded, but ultimately some clubs are bigger than others and always were.

    FFP was never about putting teams on an equal footing as far as resources toward squads go.  It was about putting them on a FAIR footing; hence the term “Financial Fair Play”.  Clubs that make more are entitled to spend more.  Kinda like the way it always was before sugardaddies decided to play the footy ownership game.
    But that doesn’t mean football is ruined.  It means clubs with smaller turnovers need to be smart.  And if they are, the money going out of big clubs will be going into their pockets, thus simultaneously helping the minnows and negatively impacting the sharks.  Every time a starlet is snatched up from a minnow, the minnow’s finances improve, thereby giving them more latitude in the FFP standards.  Conversely, every time Chelsea spend ÂŁ12 million on a starlet, that works against their FFP status.

    There will always be opportunities for success for smart clubs.  The key will be for all clubs, not just minnows, clubs to actually smarten up.

  2. says: Mpbx3003

    I’m really sick of people using the “If Roman walked away” line when referring to Chelsea. I don’t think he’d have trouble finding a buyer who could take over. Chelsea are now considered one of the big clubs now. That’s to say nothing of the fact that Roman seems in excellent physical and financial health, and has expressed no intentions to do sell the club.
    If there’s any club to be worried about, it’s Manchester City. What would happen if their owners were the subject to a revolution like those which have occurred in the region this year? Would there be another buyer ready to step in to keep the club at their current level?

  3. says: Pro_Abdi

    So then whats going to happen to Man City, since they have found a loop hole by which they can pump money into there club? are the rules going to be changed, what if Chelsea decide to do the same and get Roman to buy Stamford bridge. Weather you call it smart or underhanded-tactics somebody somewhere picked a giant hole in these FFP rules. 

    The rule will help self-sustaining clubs like Arsenal and Barca who manage to produce first team players easier than others. 

  4. says: Irish_7

    by this logic, all clubs should spend beyond their means in hopes of short term success, ever heard of Leeds United?

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