By GRAHAM DUNBAR – https://japantoday.com
UEFA approved new financial monitoring rules for European soccer clubs on Thursday, giving up on “fair play” and lowering expectations it can solve the competitive imbalance in the Champions League.
The “Financial Fair Play” system, known as FFP, will be replaced in June by “Financial Sustainability” regulations.
“Competitiveness cannot be addressed simply by financial regulations,” UEFA project leader Andrea Traverso said at a briefing, adding the words “fair play” had been misinterpreted to mean “we create a level playing field.”
“This is why we changed the name,” he said.
The Champions League has been dominated by the wealthiest of clubs, ones able to afford rising player salaries and huge transfer fees. Over the past decade, the most unlikely club to reach the Champions League final was Tottenham — which currently has the 10th-highest revenue in world soccer. Only Spanish and English clubs won the Europa League.
The new rules were praised last week by the Spanish league for “restricting the ability of state-owned clubs to commit financial doping.” That statement did not identify clubs but clearly targeted Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain — owned by the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Qatar, respectively.
By 2025, clubs playing in UEFA competitions will be limited to spending 70% of their revenue on salaries and transfers or face financial and — eventually — sporting sanctions.
After two years of financial penalties, persistent rule-breaking clubs could be barred from selecting certain players in UEFA competitions, have points deducted or be banned from a competition.
“The deterrents are there,” Traverso said. “As from a certain moment (clubs) would be so harshly penalized that I think it would be quite dissuasive.”
Although some clubs were excluded for one season from the Champions League and Europa League under the old FFP system, the most celebrated case saw Man City defeat UEFA to get a two-year ban overturned at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
UEFA-appointed investigators had accused Man City of inflating the value of sponsorship deals with companies from Abu Dhabi.
From June, UEFA said it will evaluate all commercial deals — not just those suspected of being too closely related to club owners.
“We believe the way (the rules) are refined is becoming more and more difficult for clubs to go around,” Traverso said, acknowledging “our capacity of investigations are somehow limited because we, as you well know, are not the police.”
Minutes before the UEFA briefing, Man City was the subject of a fresh report of financial wrongdoing published by Der Spiegel. The German magazine’s reports in 2018 using internal club documents led to the UEFA ban and Man City’s successful appeal at CAS.
City hasn’t commented publicly on the latest allegations.