UEFA to ease FFP rules
Published 18/05/2015 | 14:51
The financial fair play rules that saw Manchester City handed a huge fine by UEFA last season are set to be relaxed.
UEFA is expected to announce next month that the FFP rules will be eased to allow more owner investment - a move that will aim to nullify more than 10 legal challenges that the European governing body is now facing.
It will also hand a huge boost to City in terms of challenging for honours next season if restrictions on spending on transfers are watered down. It will mean owners of clubs who do make a loss will be able to cover those losses with injection of equity - but not loans.
Some clubs, including City, have argued that the FFP rules favour the rich, established clubs because they effectively prevent wealthy owners taking over a club and pumping in huge sums of money over a short period.
That scenario happened with City and Paris St Germain and both were handed £49million fines and transfer restrictions last season, and the European Clubs' Association has been putting pressure on UEFA for a change.
UEFA president Michel Platini has revealed that some of the rules will be "eased" - and the lawyer leading one of the legal challenges against the FFP system has welcomed the move.
Platini told French radio station RTL: "The world is two-faced but we will say this openly: I think we'll ease things, but it will be the executive committee who will decide if it is to be eased and the outcome will be known by the end of June.
"I think the regulations have been very good and it is the clubs who voted for FFP.
"But the French press say it is not right that [Chelsea owner Roman] Abramovich can buy many players and in France they can not buy them. But if the Qataris had bought AC Milan the French would also say we should make financial fair play even tougher."
One source close to the negotiations told Press Association Sport: "Many clubs want change - the current system means those who have more will always have more, and those who have less will always have less."
Jean-Louis Dupont, the lawyer leading the legal action against UEFA, said in a statement: "We welcome the announcement of a change in the rules in line with the demands expressed by our clients in their various legal actions.
"When the exact content and scope of these changes are known, we will consider with our clients how this development, which on first sight appears favourable, is likely to meet their legitimate expectations and influence the conduct of ongoing actions."
Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak last year claimed that history would prove that his model of heavy investment in the club at all levels is the right one.
Khaldoon said in May: "We have zero debt. We don't pay a penny to service any debt. For me, that is a sustainable model. However, our friends at UEFA seem to believe otherwise.
"They have their view, we have ours. I disagree with their views, but we are pragmatic and one thing our fans need to know, we will do, as always, what is best for this club and the fans."
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said talks on changes to the rules were still going on.
He said in a statement: "Consultation remains ongoing and a number of amendments have been discussed. Any potential changes to the existing regulations will look to encourage more growth, more competition and market stimulation while strengthening the emphasis on controlling spending and safeguarding financial stability as our objective is and remains to ensure the sustainability of European club football.
"Financial fair play has proved successful in achieving considerable improvement in the financial health of European football in a short period of time. Aggregate net losses of Europe's clubs have fallen from 1.7billion euro in 2011 to 400million euro in 2014.
"Regular review of the UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations is vital in ensuring that they keep pace with the ever-changing football environment and the new challenges that this often poses.
"Discussions on amendments to the regulations are ongoing and have taken place since October 2013 within the UEFA club licensing committee and also with the clubs, who are our main stakeholders in this process."
Any changes will need to be ratified by UEFA's executive committee at its next meeting on June 29/30 in Prague.