Update from Friday, April 25
Chief of Press for UEFA, Pedro Pinto, claims Michel Platini never totally ruled out European suspensions for clubs found guilty of breaking Financial Fair Play regulations.
Pinto tweeted on Friday, contrary to reports in Thursday's press:
Michel Platini clarifies he never confirmed there would be no exclusions as a result of Financial Fair Play process.Independent body decides— Pedro Pinto (@PedroPintoUEFA) April 25, 2014
Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are amongst the clubs breathing a sigh of relief after Michel Platini confirmed UEFA's financial fair play rulings indicate no side will be suspended from European competition next season.
Even so, Platini indicated he is unsure whether PSG adhere to all of the governing body's rules, as told to Le Parisien and tweeted by Jonathan Johnson of ESPN FC:
This could mean the Ligue 1 champions may face some sort of sanction in the future, but right now, Platini's suggestion that all investigated sides are eligible for next year's European competition is a real plus.
The FFP guidelines—installed to stop rich clubs from gathering an unfair advantage via "financial doping," per Richard Conway of BBC Sport—ultimately aim to ensure the long-term stability of football's biggest spenders.
Both City and PSG's meteoric rise are based on the massive financial input of wealthy owners, as Sheikh Mansour and Qatar Tourism Authority have ploughed the respective clubs with funds to ensure rapid improvements over the last few years. While it has worked—both have captured league titles and cup wins since investment—these are the types of financial structures that UEFA wishes to keep an eye on.
Clubs entering European football can afford to make losses of £37 million on accounts registered during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. This number drops to £25 million in 2015-16 and will continue to decrease until the 2018 campaign, reported by Conway.
Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea were previously cleared by UEFA, per Bryan Swanson of Sky Sports. Jose Mourinho's Blues were the most likely to face extra sanctions, but a conscious effort to offload players before signing new talents—highlighted by the January exits of Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne before Nemanja Matic, Mohamed Salah and Kurt Zouma were signed—aids the club's future safety.
UEFA's exact punishment is yet to be defined for those who do breach the newly installed rules. Fines, bans from European competition and the withholding of prize money are all viable options, but the first ruling is likely to set precedent here, per Conway. A transfer ban would perhaps be a smart idea, curbing the amount any offenders can spend until they post accounts in the black.
This summer's transfer activity may be dictated by clubs who aim to ensure they don't violate the system. PSG could be forced into letting a star name leave for a hefty price, although Jonathan Johnson doesn't expect this to be Edinson Cavani, who cost £55 million last summer:
Borderline blasphemy this, but is Zlatan Ibrahimovic not the most logical choice if PSG need to sacrifice a player because of FFP? #PSG— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) April 24, 2014
The early challenge of adhering to the FFP guidelines is beginning to shape clubs' financial output. Chelsea are an excellent example of those who are actively working to ensure limitations are met, while both City and PSG will need to do the same with haste.
Neither can afford a ban from European competition if they wish to keep the talent they've packed into their squads. Such a punishment is certainly more damaging than a fine and is more likely to see on-pitch results take a turn for the worse. UEFA is yet to show exactly how serious it is about the guidelines, but being the first club to test its resolve is unlikely to yield a favourable result.