MANCHESTER: ‘Football fireman’ Trevor Birch believes UEFA’s Financial Fair Play system is a step in the right direction but he is unsure whether it will prove effectively enforceable.

Birch, administrator currently seeking to save something out of the financial wreckage of former FA Cup-winners Portsmouth, described the lower divisions of English football as “a scene of financial carnage.”

Speaking at Soccerex European Forum, Birch picked up on a massive contrast between the Football League and the Premier League which was, he said, “one of our most successful exports.”

He ascribed the plight of debt-laden Portsmouth as being an example of the ‘benefactor model’ of ownership which had failed.

UEFA president Michel Platini has been a persistent scepic about the fragility of that financial model as represented among the elite by Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea and the high-spending Gulf investments firing Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Major questionmarks surround how all three clubs will cope with the accounts-balancing demands of FFP which is being launched this year with a focus on clubs reaching comparative break-even status by 2014.

Birch cautioned: “I think the principles of FFP are right but whether it will achieve the end result I’m not too sure because there will be certain loopholes It remains to be seen how penalties are imposed and what ability UEFA has To implement them.

“However, in terms of trying to level the playing field that has to be the right way forward for football.”

For all the talk about FFP, however, its precise influence will concern only the club cream in any country, any league, with ambitions to compete in the European club tournaments.

While it is intended to regulate the elite it will not command lower-level clubs unless umbrella organisations, such as the Football League, set up their own versions. This makes the use of sustainable financial models all the more important.

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