With the 2013-14 football season nearing its latter stages, UEFA has announced it will investigate 76 European clubs to determine whether they are in compliance with financial fair play rules.
According to Martyn Ziegler of Press Association, roughly one-third of the 237 eligible clubs will be investigated, and it is expected that Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are among them, although the list of non-compliant clubs won't be released until April.
Per Ziegler, UEFA clubs are allowed a total loss of £37 million over the course of 2012 and 2013, so those who appear to be close to the number are subject to discipline. That includes Man City, who lost £97.9 million in 2012 and £51.6 million in 2013.
PSG's spending has been a topic of conversation over the past year, and Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently suggested the French club should be further investigated, according to beIN Sports.
It's hard to imagine that Paris Saint-Germain are complying with financial fair play. We all know about the money stream coming in from Qatar, allegedly about €200 million per season. I hope that (UEFA president) Michel Platini will take this matter seriously. Clubs that breach the FFP rules will have to pay the price. It's an important moment for UEFA. Clubs have had three years time to meet the FFP criteria and UEFA should not accept any breaches of the rules.
Chelsea was thought to be a candidate for further investigation as well, but Bryan Swanson of Sky Sports is reporting they are not among the 76 organizations on the list:
The potential punishments vary, but the BBC's Richard Conway reports that clubs could be fined or perhaps even banned from competing in Europe if the violations are deemed significant enough.
With that said, clubs can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. According to Ziegler, UEFA legal affairs director Alasdair Bell expects some clubs to challenge the rulings.
"This will be no surprise to us," Bell said. "We are not afraid of them being contested. We fully anticipate there will be challenges—it would be strange if there weren't. July and August could be a busy time."
The financial fair play rules are somewhat controversial, but UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino believes they are necessary to prevent "greed, reckless spending and financial insanity," according to Conway.
The manner in which UEFA handles clubs in violation of these rules will set a major precedent moving forward. Manchester City and PSG are two of the biggest clubs in Europe, and it's possible several other top franchises could be in trouble as well.
If UEFA lets them skate by with little more than a slap on the wrist in response, then it is unlikely clubs will take the fair play rules seriously moving forward.
Should UEFA truly crack down, however, clubs will be far more mindful of the rules in the future.
These types of situations always seem to have loopholes, so expect clubs such as Manchester City and PSG to be ready to combat the allegations. Ultimately, the biggest battles this spring and summer figure to take place off the pitch rather than on it.
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