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Wenger fears rich clubs will stop financial fair play from working

ARSENE Wenger, with his Arsenal team on the brink of reaching the Champions League knockout stages, fears UEFA's commitment to financial fair play (FFP) will be impossible to implement.

Europe's governing body has threatened sanctions against clubs who fail to start balancing the books, including bans from their elite competitions. Yet Wenger believes the power of clubs such as Manchester City, Malaga and Paris St-Germain will prove too great.

Wenger has previously accused rivals of "financial doping", and last week City announced an annual loss of £194.9m. With the Swiss team FC Sion taking UEFA to court recently, the Frenchman sees control shifting.

"When I see the number announced by Man City, do you really think it (FFP) will work in 2013? I cannot see it when the wage bill is bigger than the turnover. Frankly, that cannot happen in one year," Wenger said.

"And secondly, with what happened with Sion challenging UEFA, they have lost a lot of power. We live in a world where any decision made is challenged. The authority of the legal affairs is challengeable everywhere.

"Will UEFA be capable to force it through? I question it. In other countries, you have Paris St-Germain, Malaga as well. Once they represent a force together, it will be difficult to fight against."

With their self-sustaining financial model, Arsenal will reach the knockout stages of UEFA's elite club competition for the 12th consecutive season if they defeat Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates tonight.

Robin van Persie started Arsenal's last European match on the bench but such is the importance of getting a result, the Netherlands forward will start tonight. Abou Diaby also returns to the squad as Wenger's team look to stretch their unbeaten run to nine matches.

"Every player and member of staff is conscious it is a big night for us," Wenger said.

"Our consistency has helped the team improve. And qualifying from the Champions League group will give us a lift again. For us, it is vital. The two priorities for us are the Premier League and the Champions League. We are focused on those."


Tottenham Hotspur, the last team to beat them, are providing a challenge to Arsenal's place in the domestic top four, although Wenger suggested yesterday that there is room for both of them in the Champions League qualification places.

The rivalry has prompted Jack Wilshere to pledge £3,000 to charity should Tottenham finish above their neighbours.

"I hope the charity gets a lot of money because they have a lot of supporters," Wenger said.

Wenger was less jovial when it came to Emmanuel Adebayor, the former Arsenal striker, who is leading the Spurs attack while on loan from City but is not permitted to play against his parent club.

"If the loan is a loan he should be capable to play against everybody," Wenger added.