Financial Fair Play: 5 Potential Winners Under UEFA's Rules

Tony MabertContributor ISeptember 18, 2012

Financial Fair Play: 5 Potential Winners Under UEFA's Rules

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    Last week UEFA administered the first sanctions to clubs across Europe who have failed to comply with its "financial fair play" regulations.

    The much talked-about "FFP" which is being gradually phased in over the next few seasons demands that clubs must have their books balanced and also avoid overdue payments to other teams, their own employees or social and tax authorities.

    The regulations, an attempt to ensure a more level playing field in European competition, can see clubs have their prize money withheld and even banned from the Champions League and Europa League as a last resort.

    But while there are many clubs across the continent who will be very concerned about meeting the new requirements, there are other sides already well-equipped to comply.

Arsenal

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    Perhaps the poster boys for financial fair play, Arsenal are a club with their finances on a very firm footing.

    Fans of the Gunners have become used to the club routinely selling its best players and, it seems, not reinvesting enough in the playing staff to truly challenge for titles as they used to a decade ago.

    However, once the rest of the continent is forced to match its incomings and outgoings the way Arsenal have been for years, the Londoners should be in the perfect position to compete with the very best.

Juventus

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    It has been a long road back for Juventus, who went down to Italy's second division as part of their punishment for the "Calciopoli" match-fixing scandal.

    They may be the best-supported club in Italy, but their refusal to pay exorbitant wages and transfer fees has seen them build sensibly and steadily over the past few years.

    Now they are champions of Serie A again, and Champions League finally returns to Turin in their shiny new stadium that they own outright, a rarity in Italy. That additional revenue stream makes them ideally placed for the future.

Bayern Munich

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    Like most Bundesliga teams, Bayern's majority shareholders are their fans. In fact, 82 percent of the club is owned by its 130,000 club members, with the rest being made up by German commercial giants Audi and Adidas.

    Despite being beaten to the league title by Borussia Dortmund in each of the past two seasons, Bayern remain by far and away Germany's biggest club. That means more income from all the usual sources, not least their glorious 69,000-capacity Allianz Arena.

    Bayern have struck the perfect balance between commercial clout and sound book-keeping that should safeguard their status as one of Europe's top clubs for years to come.

The Creative Accountants

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    For the big-spending, nouveau riche clubs in Europe which are the very antithesis of FFP, some creative accounting and clever problem-solving has suddenly become necessary to try and meet their requirements.

    For example, Premier League champions Manchester City announced midway through last season that their ground's name was being changed from the City of Manchester Stadium to the Etihad Stadium as part of a £400 million sponsorship deal with the airline. Any links between City owner Sheikh Mansour, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, and the airline owned by that country's government, are of course purely coincidental.

    A more topical example is that of Zenit St. Petersburg, the Russian champions who are owned by petroleum giant Gazprom. Earlier this month, Zenit spent a reported £70 million on signing Brazil striker Hulk and Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel. Two months previously, Gazprom had become an official Champions League partner.

    Draw your own conclusions.

Michel Platini

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    The UEFA president may continually refuse to give his backing to goal-line technology, but he has been the driving force behind FFP.

    The Frenchman has extolled the egalitarian philosophy of his country by pushing through the new regulations which could, potentially, make the sport a much more competitive one at the top level in the years to come.

    Whenever the hugely unpopular FIFA president Sepp Blatter decides to give up his seat, or is forcibly removed from it, Platini will be in pole position to inherit it.