Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain face the real possibility of having their salary budget capped for next season's Champions League after breaching UEFA's financial fair play guidelines.
As reported by David McDonnell of the Mirror, this punishment could also cut the pair's squad limit from 25, leaving some top-earning talent without the opportunity to perform in Europe's elite competition:
The big-spending Blues are likely to suffer a curb on wages for their squad playing in Europe’s elite competition next season as a punishment for falling foul of FFP.
City and fellow transgressors Paris Saint-Germain are also set to be fined and told to make a cut in the number of players in their 25-strong squads for the Champions League.
Is the potential salary cut in European competition a stern enough punishment for those in breach of UEFA's FFP rules?
UEFA's club financial control board is set to make a decision across Thursday and Friday, according to Chris Wheeler of the Daily Mail.
While City and PSG are likely to feel aggrieved in the aftermath, especially considering this is the first year UEFA's new rules come into effect, it's vital the European body makes an impression with its initial set of disciplinary procedures.
Sky Sports suggests "fewer than 20 clubs" are still under investigation and could face sanctions that ensure dramatic losses are no longer posted. UEFA aims to make sure teams competing in the Champions League or Europa League post accounts that remain in the black, ensuring mega-rich clubs can no longer buy any world-class talent they wish for a hefty price.
City and PSG are two prime examples of teams that have enjoyed a transformation in fortune since receiving a financial takeover. Both have landed domestic titles and cups, though both have failed to quickly assert themselves in European competition.
Clubs were allowed to lose £37 million in each of the last three seasons, but City "suffered losses of £97.9m in 2012 and £51.6m last year," per McDonnell. Perhaps worryingly, City's transfer expenditure for this season sits at £91.8m—recorded by TransferMarkt.com—not a promising sign considering UEFA's allowed loss count drops to £25 million next year.
PSG's transfer expenditure is even more damning. The Ligue 1 champions have tallied losses of £96.3 million this season, £129.5 million in 2012 and £85 million the year before. If both teams have consciously tried to take advantage of the loss limit while it remains at its highest, they've barely tried to hide it.
Fortunately, it seems UEFA is unlikely to ban either club from competitive European action during the first set of punishments. Pedro Pinto, the governing body's chief of press, suggests Michel Platini hasn't ruled the possibility out, but current reports point toward squad and salary caps:
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
Confirmation of the aforementioned penalisation remains to be seen. Indeed, if reports ring true, the severity of UEFA's limits will dictate how seriously top clubs should take the financial restrictions across the coming years.
For teams such as City and PSG, the big fear now is that UEFA may wish to make an example of their shortcomings.