UEFA have now published settlement agreements for FFP with nine clubs – Manchester City (England), PSG (France) Galatasaray, Trabzonspor, Bursaspor (Turkey), Rubin Kazan, Zenit St. Petersburg, Anji (Russia) and Levski Sofia (Bulgaria). This concludes the FFP process for 2014/15. Originally 76 out of 237 clubs entering UEFA competition were subject to investigation at UEFA level, nine were sanctioned, and it seems that all have agreed to accept the sanctions imposed, meaning that there will be no appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport – which could have dragged out the process.
All the sanctions share some common features – an undertaking to become FFP compliant next year or the year after, no increases in wage expenditures next year and the year after. For MCFC, PSG and the Russian clubs the squad size is restricted to 21 rather than 25 players. There are some differences, MCFC and PSG have been fined €60 million each, Zenit €12 million, Rubin €6 million, Anji €2 million and the Turkish and Bulgarian teams €200,000 each. the big two have also agreed to limit transfer spending in the next two years.
These sanctions relate to the break-even constraint which UEFA claims they breached (some of the clubs disputed this). A further six clubs were sanctioned for breaching the no overdue payables rule – three of them were excluded from competition.
So what does all this mean:
for UEFA? They probably are well satisfied with their work. the fundamental point is that they have managed to get everyone to accept their regulations and their sanctions, without appeal or going to law. they would claim that their regulations are working because of the evidence that clubs in general are restraining their spending. True, this evidence is not very strong, but at least they seem to have avoided outright rebellion. But bear in mind that they still face the Striani challenge in the courts, which may yet cause them problems. Moreover, many fans wanted blood- exclusion of PSG and MCFC from the competition, while the €60 million fines handed out look trivial (although they will reduce the clubs’ income for breakeven purposes- so there is a sting in the tail).
for the clubs affected? Many will argue that this is just a slap on the wrist, but there is no doubt that their freedom of manoeuvre has been reduced. Moreover, should they continue in breach then the sanctions could be racked up. Since there is so much luck in football, it’s not inconceivable that the ambitions of these clubs could be seriously reversed in the next few years.
for the fans? This all depends on who you support. If you support the established clubs then this is probably good news- challengers in the future will be discouraged. IF you support a small club your chances of playing at the highest level are more remote than ever. If you care about the finances of your club rather than the results then maybe you will be happier- but if so, what kind of fan are you anyway?
for club owners? Delighted, over the moon, the right result, a great day for the lads…I could go on. Imposing restraints limits competition, limiting competition increases profits- as I keep saying, this is Economics 101.
for players? Gutted, sick as a parrot (ok, you get the idea). This is just the inverse of the point above, less competition for workers means lower wages. Not that they’ll get much sympathy from the fans.
This is just a preliminary analysis- no doubt more will emerge on reflection. Right now UEFA and the big clubs look like they’re winning. But the game is not over yet.