UEFA president Michel Platini has maintained that European football’s governing body is “not out to kill clubs” through its Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, which swing into full effect this season.
FFP rules dictate that clubs must not spend more than they generate through revenue such as television rights, tickets and sponsorship, with the first raft of punishments for transgressors set to be issued next spring. Speaking to the Evening Standard newspaper, Platini admitted that with clubs having lawyers and “everybody defending his own position,” the issue could “eventually wind up in courts”. UEFA has found itself in the courtroom throughout the summer over the European bans handed out to Fenerbahce, Besiktas and Metalist Kharkiv for match-fixing offences and Platini has hinted that such sanctions would be reserved for only the most serious FFP infringements.
He said: “It is a work in progress. Sanctions will be decided upon. Do not think we are going to take five to 10 clubs out of the European competition. Definitely that would be the very, very last straw. If we have repeat offenders okay, yes, they will have to be punished severely — possibly. We are not out to kill the clubs. We want to help the clubs to grow. We are trying to regulate football.”
Last week, UEFA claimed that its FFP regulations were already having a positive effect on the financial affairs of European clubs after announcing a Eur600 million reduction in the aggregate losses of top division clubs in the last financial year. Europe’s 725 top-tier clubs lost Eur1.066 billion between them, compared to Eur1.7 billion in the previous year – turning around six years of increasing losses. FFP rules only concern clubs participating in European competition, currently excluding teams such as AS Monaco, which has embarked on a lavish spending spree following its return to Ligue 1. Platini added: “That is a problem. We can take care of the clubs taking part in our competitions but I have nothing to do with the English or French championships or Italy. We have no influence on the national competitions. The structures of UEFA do not allow for that. The presidents of the national associations want to run their own competitions. The national associations are the bosses of UEFA.”