There has been much talk about the rights and wrongs of Manchester City winning their appeal against UEFA at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but most of that can be found in the internet’s darker corners.
The interesting question beyond all that is: what does it mean for the financial fair play regulations now? Our panel discussed just that on the latest European edition of the Totally Football Show.
“I spoke to one director of a European club and he thinks that reform of FFP is necessary and in some respects inevitable,” said James Horncastle. “They feel it’s already started, because the issue has been forced by COVID-19 and the pandemic, so I think in conjunction with this story as well, it might force the issue even more.
“I suspect it would be in the direction of looser regulations, even though UEFA have made a big song and dance about how prior to FFP European clubs were making a loss of £1.6billion, and in the last two years the European game has been profitable. That is seen as the success of FFP, even though we know the game has never been more polarised – how the rich have got richer, and leagues have become more stratified than ever.”
Attitudes to FFP differ depending on who you’re asking, as Rafa Honigstein pointed out.
“In Italy, there is a feeling that some of the traditional powers have been left behind, that FFP is more of a problem than a benefit to them. If you go to Spain, the big powers will say “FFP is absolutely necessary because otherwise we will be outspent by City and PSG”.
“In Germany it’s different again, because there even the smaller clubs support the idea of FFP, even though it doesn’t really infringe on them that much, because they worry if FFP falls, they will not just be outspent by the PSGs, Bayerns and Juventuses of this world, but by Fulham, Southampton, Bournemouth and Burnley, and can’t keep any of their players.
“I think City have shown that the regulations are “open to interpretation”, and I think UEFA will have to think very hard and carefully next time they bring an investigation against a club. I think it will have a chilling effect, and make it much more difficult for them to be absolutely secure in their own verdict, as far as their own body is concerned (which is not strictly UEFA but the adjudicatory chamber).”
Julien Laurens added:
“Let’s not forget that Manchester City got done [for breaking FFP regulations] in 2014. It’s just that after Football Leaks, UEFA thought they should be punished harder.
“Clubs will still have to follow FFP. Before City, PSG got away with it, but for a lot of other clubs it has worked. For sure, in some cases like these they should clearly have been punished harder than how they already have.
“The wrong thing initially was those settlements those clubs were able to have with UEFA. If you breach it, you should get sanctioned. UEFA were far too lenient with City and PSG when they breached FFP regulations before.”
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