KEIR RADNEDGE in MONTE CARLO: UEFA president Michel Platini has warned Europe’s money-no-object clubs that there will be no ‘wriggle room’ when it comes down to opening up their accounts to the rigours of Financial Fair Play.
European federation UEFA set FFP in place three years ago with the intention of cleaning up the game, economically, and improving a tarnished image of financial recklessness.
In Monaco, ahead of tonight’s Supercup duel between Chelsea and Atletico de Madrid, Platini reminded Europe’s club elite: “We have been given the unanimous support of the clubs and the national associations to revolutionise European football. We will never go back on our decision. The transitional period for financial fair play is reaching the end and we will not go back. We are determined to see it through.”
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said that the threat of oncoming FFP was already having an effect. He said that spending by clubs in the major leagues in the transfer windows was down by more than 20pc and, in the case of Spain, by as much as 35pc.
Platini, challenged that the downward trend might be attributable to the world economic crisis, said the reasons were not as important as clubs’ apparent realisation now that they had to live within their means.
Asked about the attitudes of big spenders such as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, Platini said he was optimistic that all clubs understood the need to meet the terms of FFP even if “some of them are not showing it.”
This summer Germany was one of the few countries to buck the downward trend but that partly attributable to Bayern Munich’s splashing of E40m on Spain midfielder Javi Martinez.
Infantino, asked whether such a fee for a such a player was excessive, responded that Bayern, as a model of financial rectitude, had every right to use their monies as they wished. The purpose of FFP was to prevent clubs spending their way into debt.
UEFA has upgraded its FFP control system to prepare for the expected extra workload.
Prize money withheld
Three clubs had been barred from European competition this season – Hungary’s Gyor, Greece’s AEK Athens and Turkey’s Besiktas – for not complying with rules insisting on no overdue debts with regard to player wages, transfer fees and/or national taxation.
A further 27 clubs had had their European club prize money withheld pending reviews of their accounts. The names of the club are expected to be made inside the next two weeks when all have been informed.
“The train has left the station,” said Infantino. “Our control board’s monitoring is having a concrete effect.”
Clubs have been set – a concern for several major clubs in England, France, Italy and Spain – a deadline of June 2014 to slip inside the ‘break-even rule.’
Both Infantino and Platini were adamant that clubs who failed to meet the demands of FFP would be at risk of sanctions ranging from prize money suspension to exclusion from European competition.
Later Platini insisted that the financial regulations should be viewed in a positive light for the good of football.
He said: “Many people come into football for reasons of business or popularity or because they love the game and we are here to protect them and help them, not kill them. That’s why we had to have unanimity about the [Financial Fair Flay] decision.
“The only potential danger for us was the legal protection so when the European competitions commission in Brussels said it was a good thing that placed in a very good situation because, otherwise, the clubs could have gone to all the tribunals and then they could have killed us.”
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