If UEFA and Platini Are Serious About Financial Fair Play, They Should Do More

True BlueCorrespondent IAugust 10, 2016

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As any football fan worth his salt now appreciates, spending at the top football clubs is to be curbed by the introduction of UEFA's new Financial Fair Play Rules or FFPR.

In very simple terms, any club who hopes to play in UEFA tournaments, currently the Champions League and Europa League, needs to spend within its means.

There are a number of details that make the use of the term FFPR less than fully accurate.

To make my explanation easier let us assume that the three-season grace period has now expired, and as such the FFPR are now fully embedded. 

Firstly, a club that is to be issued a UEFA licence must make a profit over a three-year period (or a minimal financial loss). 

For the purposes of the FFPR investments in stadia/infrastructure and academies is disregarded. This is done to encourage investment in the longer term ambitions of better stadia and more youth development across Europe.

But a club can be in any amount of debt that it likes so long as the profits generated by the club can cover the interest due on the debt.

To many that seems a strange decision (as it could be seen to encourage indebtedness) as surely debt free clubs are better than those able to manage that debt?

Also what happens if the debt interest spirals or income drops, and the short termism of the debt means a club can no longer meet the FFPR? 

It seems that the reason debt has not been targeted is because so many of the big clubs are already saddled with as much debt as they can handle.

Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona are all in the red albeit manageable, for want of a better phrase.

The big clubs are in debt of course as they need to maintain their dominance, so being able to rely on Champions League monies means their turnover and profits will naturally be higher than clubs trying to achieve the same goals.

Clubs trying to break into these more profitable competitions cannot invest in the same way so the allowance of debt in the FFPR could be construed as a way of maintaining the status quo.

So we can see a pattern emerging that suggests that UEFA had to keep the big clubs happy to get the FFPR agreed.

But there are other problems as well that mean Platini's FFPR seem anything but fair.

The biggest of these is the distribution of TV revenue.

In England, the Premier League has a centrally negotiated and distributed TV deal that allows every club to earn good money from their participation in the EPL.

There are parachute payments for three seasons to also limit the chances of a financial meltdown if a club is relegated. 

In Spain, there are only two winners when it comes to TV revenue, Barca and Real Madrid.

As there is no central negotiation or distribution of TV monies these two clubs earn massive amounts more than, say Manchester United but the flip side is that a lower placed club like Villareal could never compete in a way that Bolton are in the EPL.

So where is the fairness there then.

Perhaps M. Platini should amend the FFPR and say that only teams involved in a league where fair TV revenue distribution occurs are deemed to be suitable for the UEFA club licence?

But we could do one more thing as well.

This would be even more radical and send shock waves through the sport.

What if we turned the Champions League into a tournament for which no prize money were awarded?

The reason for entry into the CL would be for the honour of being the best team in Europe, and nothing more.

And if that were achieved the revenues that currently get distributed amongst the biggest clubs in Europe could be distributed amongst the grass roots clubs.

Imagine if Manchester City were to be crowned champions of Europe and at the same time two thousand small youth projects which engaged young people via football were to be provided with funding for a year.

Surely that would be Financial Fair Play?


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