Thursday 14 December 2017

Uefa to investigate PSG record move for Neymar


Neymar. Photo: PA
Neymar. Photo: PA

Sam Wallace

Uefa will demand to know how Paris Saint-Germain are financing the world-record €222million signing of Neymar from Barcelona and has reiterated its stance that Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules will be enforced.

On a dramatic day, Barca announced that Neymar had told them of his intention to leave and that in response had said he could only do so on payment of the €222million buy-out clause included in the contract he signed last year.

It is anticipated that the Qatari-owned PSG will pay it in full, although the structure of the deal, expected to be €500million in total, will have to pass FFP rules.

The 25-year-old is expected to earn around €55million a year before tax, meaning that the total deal, spread over the course of a five-year contract, could cost €89million annually - almost a quarter of PSG's annual pounds €390million revenue.

In a statement yesterday Uefa reiterated its stance that FFP would be enforced, saying the organisation was "exceptionally serious" that clubs were not permitted to make losses in excess of €30 million over three years.

When the deal goes through, it will more than double the world-record transfer fee, the €100m paid by Manchester United to Juventus for Paul Pogba last summer, and it will make Neymar the world's best-paid player.

His buy-out clause was intended as insurance that he would not leave Barcelona after overtures from PSG before he signed his last deal, although the Spanish club never anticipated that anyone would meet it.

The turning of the tables on Barcelona, ranked second in the world for turnover last season in the Deloitte Money League, has been met with anger in Spain, where the president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, accused PSG of state-backed "financial doping".

He said there would be a formal Liga complaint to Uefa and the European Union about "the teams that receive economic investment from countries that gift players to their fans at the cost of taking them from other clubs."

The deal marks a change in the financial dominance of Spain's two leading clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, who, previous to PSG's proposed Neymar deal, have signed the biggest names from all over the world.

It also has political implications for Qatar, isolated by sanctions imposed by its Middle East neighbours and eager to establish its credibility in football before it hosts the 2022 World Cup.

Barcelona are expected to make a further offer for Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho, although Jurgen Klopp has said once again that the club will not entertain offers at any level for the Brazilian. And the Catalans could also try to sign Monaco's 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe, who is a target for Real Madrid.

Uefa said in a statement: "All clubs must abide by the rules of FFP or face the consequences. UEFA is exceptionally serious about the enforcement of FFP and keen that its success in stabilising the finances of European football continues."


In response to a question about the Neymar deal, a UEFA spokesman said that there had been no indication from PSG as to how they intended to make the transfer FFP-compliant.

Any deal will be concluded after the July 17 FFP deadline for this season and, therefore, will be included in financial disclosures for club licensing for 2018-2019 Uefa competitions.

In 2014, UEfa fined PSG €20m for breaching FFP regulations and maintains that the measures work, with losses across clubs in Europe's top divisions falling from £1.5 billion in 2011 to £270m in 2015, and further reductions predicted.

Andrea Traverso, UEFA's head of club licensing, has repeated that the organisation will pursue the FFP measures brought in by former president Michel Platini.

While Fifa is responsible for regulating football's transfer market, Uefa is also confident that there is no loophole that can be exploited by PSG owner's Qatari Sports Investments to circumvent rules.

There have been reports that the Qatari state might pay Neymar the buy-out fee which he would lodge personally to achieve free agency, thus ensuring that any transfer fee was not paid by PSG.

There are suggestions he may also be paid separately as an ambassador for the 2022 World Cup.

Article 72 of the FFP regulations is intended to mitigate against any attempts by clubs to circumvent legislation.

When he told Barcelona formally of his intention to leave, Neymar was accompanied by his father and adviser Neymar Snr, who will earn an eight-figure commission on the deal.

The as-yet unpaid commission owed to him by Barcelona on his son's October 2016 contract, believed to be around €22m, had been deposited with a lawyer and would be paid, the club said, on resolution of the player's future.

Neymar was given what Barcelona described as "temporary permission" to miss training and was bid farewell via Instagram by his former team-mate, and the club's greatest player, Lionel Messi, who wished him "the best of luck in this new stage of your life".

Elsewhere in Barcelona, the response has been more hostile with posters accusing Neymar of being a "traitor" appearing around the city. © Daily Telegraph, London.

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