While the new football season is not too far away and supporters’ minds are focusing on the big kick-off, many clubs are having to look forward to the implementation of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations at the close of the season.
An attempt to curtail the huge levels of debt and financial losses in European football, Financial Fair Play (FFP) is set to come into play after the coming season and thus 2012/13 offers the last chance for clubs to reign in their finances.
Despite assurances from leading clubs that they’re working towards being self-sustainable (most notably from Chelsea and Man City in recent seasons) and threats of penalties and European-competition exclusion, there is significant doubt that the scheme will really work to reduce debt and reduce the effects of ‘sugar daddies’.
Man City – makers of a record £197m loss last season and the only Premier League club where wages exceed revenue – in particular have been accused of working around FFP by effectively sponsoring their own stadium, however EUFA will claim any payments ‘above market value’ will be investigated.
Meanwhile, clubs with huge but ‘sustainable’ debt covered by revenues – including Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid – will avoid any serious penalties, despite Man Utd fans having their own concerns about the ownership and financial management of the club.
Certainly the recent liquidation of Rangers Football Club in Scotland heightens the clear need for more stringent financial controls in football and to stop clubs paying out against their means and protect supporters. Whether cheering in the stands or impersonating their heroes on the 5 a side football pitch, football fans are the people who are really getting hurt.
However while it could stop clubs going ‘bust’ there are concerns from the football community at large that FFP will not level the playing field. In essence acceptable business debt will still exist, and the clubs with huge revenues will continue as is while smaller clubs will struggle to bridge that financial gap – we could see further dominance of the ‘favoured few’ power clubs.
Will FFP have a real effect on the game? Get involved in the comments section.