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UEFA FFP – A False Ideology

By: Ted Fred Franky, Refuting misinformation, June 16, 2023  12 months ago


UEFA introduce Financial Fair Play rules as Michel Plantini explains,

“We have worked on the financial fair play concept hand-in-hand with the clubs, as our intention is not to punish them but to protect them,”

Manchester City MCFC Scarf
Manchester City MCFC Scarf

 “The philosophy is that you cannot spend more money than you generate.”

“This approval is the start of an important journey for European football’s club finances as we begin to put stability and economic common sense back into football. I thank all the stakeholders who have supported this along the way.”

This article at the BBC explains more

Manchester City MCFC Scarf
Manchester City MCFC Scarf

Specifically these two questions:

Why now?

 “Uefa is very concerned about the exaggerated levels of debt in the game,” Dehaene told me. “Platini also wants there to be more equality between the teams.”

What will success look like?

A: “In the longer term, Uefa would like to cap transfer fees and salaries, which are becoming almost immoral, but not with a formal, American-style cap. What we’re trying is more comprehensive, long-term and structural,” he said.

Man City Nero Scarf - Sky/Navy - One Size
Man City Nero Scarf - Sky/Navy - One Size

“The FFP rules won’t be enough to help smaller clubs on their own, much will still depend on how they organise themselves. And there will always be difference between a Bruges and a Barca because of TV rights and the number of fans. But the difference can be smaller.”

Since FFP was introduced, transfer fees for players have spiralled upwards, players wages have rocketed and debt at the three biggest clubs in the world, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United, has gone through the roof.

The gap between the rich and the poor has grown significantly.

It is fair to say that FFP has completely failed to achieve anything it set out to do.

This hardly surprising when you consider FFP does not concern itself with the debt of clubs or cap spending on players transfer fees and wages.

If FFP simply stated,

Official Manchester City Scarf – PUMA 2
Official Manchester City Scarf – PUMA 2

  • Your club can only run at a profit,
  • Debts must fall each year, and
  • There are caps on transfer fees, player wages and agents commission

then it would do what it is supposed to.

However it simply states:

  • You can spend 80% of your turnover on transfer fees and wages
  • You can only lose an average of £30m a year over any 3 year period.

How on earth can a system that takes no account of your total costs and allows losses, do anything to address debt and create financial stability?

All the 80% rule does is ensure that your turnover dictates how good your squad is.

This link was proven in some analysis done in the first 10 years of the Premier League where it was found that for every premier league season, the final standings in the league mirrored a table drawn up of the total wage bill of each club. One or two clubs were a place higher or lower than they should be, but your wage bill dictated where you finished in the league.

So when the 80% rule was added to FFP, it was known that this should ensure the teams with the highest turnover would win the league. Great news for the biggest clubs by turnover and a rebuke for competitiveness.

However the £30m loss every year meamt a determined owner could slowly grow his club to challenge.

It also meant at first glance that clubs backed by wealthy owners like Manchester City and PSG could not spend willy nilly anymore. It didn’t stop them,  they just signed commercial deals to ensue their turnover increased to what it needed to be.

The real bone of contention is the allegation that sponsorship deals are exaggerated to get around the rules, but is this true?

Is Manchester City’s Etihad Sponsorship Overstated?