First implemented in 2011/12, UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules were set up to make sure European football clubs could only spend on what they earn from football-related services in their pursuit of glory.
Failure to abide with these rules would call for penalties like bans from UEFA competitions for some seasons, fines in millions of Euros, limited squads during European night games, withholding of prize money among others as deemed fit by UEFA’s Financial Control Panel.
The introduction of these rules was a ray of hope among low budget competitive teams who were always mainly out-competed by their opponents due to a huge difference in budgets, a case of Monaco and PSG.
These teams also hoped these rules would curtail the growing vice of what Arsene Wenger popularly called financial doping. Financial doping is a situation where a wealthy person acquires a football club and provides it with a hefty budget to buy success.
However, the results have not matched the expectations, as clubs started spending wisely in the transfer markets. Many, most especially Serie A teams have come up with a new system of carrying out transfer business where they sign a player on loan with an obligation to buy clause after some years. This also helps to postpone a club’s expenditure from the current financial year to the next one(s) to come.
Other clubs have come up with a financial system where payments on the purchase of a player are initiated in the future, not the current financial year in which he was bought. In such scenarios, clubs would swiftly bypass the rules and somehow continue their outrageous spending.
Over the recent years, FFP regulations have come to test against AC Milan, PSG and most recently Manchester City. In June 2018, UEFA sanctioned the Rossoneri from participating in UEFA’s secondary club competition for allegedly breaching the break-even requirements both parties had agreed upon. But in a turn of events, the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) overturned the ruling and re-instated the club into the competitions.
Teams have still found ways to bypass the UEFA FFP rules which is why a re-evaluation of the regulations is needed
Against PSG, UEFA gave up the fight easily since they couldn’t prove without questionable doubt that the Paris club had inflated their sponsorship deals with Qatari Foundations in which the Club President has a lot of influence too.
UEFA’s point of the review came this year in a case against Manchester City where CAS re-instated them into the Champions League. In the ruling, CAS concluded that the Cityzens did not overstate sponsorship revenue meaning UEFA did not have undeniable evidence that Man City colluded with Etihad, Etisalat and Qatari Tourism Foundation to inflate sponsorship deals.
CAS also concluded that the Manchester side failed to cooperate with UEFA authorities in the investigation and for that reason, CAS went on to maintain but reduce the cash penalty to 10 million Euros.After being floured on three occasions, it is evident that the FFP regulations need to undergo some well-thought changes as admitted by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin during a March Congress.
FFP may be a way of cutting loses by the clubs but in the long run, it creates a bracket of super-rich clubs which continue to spend big while the small find it had to hard to get to this bracket.
The FFP rules have created a situation where small clubs attract fewer investors since there is a ceiling on the spending so, it will take a longer period for such a club to make it to the top or even sometimes they never do because the investors are not very patient.
The coming FFP changes are expected to enforce a Robinhood type of model while putting into consideration the traditional big clubs. The rules should be in a way that they are not very strict to small teams or teams which have acquired new investors, and also at the same time make the Giants not cheated.
Author: Katende Basajjabaka
Katende writes about sports and occasionally technology.