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Revealed: The key talks between Uefa and Manchester City ahead of new football spending clampdown

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EXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey in Nyon, Switzerland

Manchester City and Uefa have held talks in Switzerland ahead of Europe’s new clampdown on debt-laden football clubs.

A City delegation visited the governing body’s headquarters in Nyon last summer to assure Uefa officials the club plans to become financially sustainable and for extra guidance on the Financial Fair Play rules, which will be phased in from next month.

City are the club most guilty of overspending and then using cash injections from their billionaire benefactor Sheikh Mansour to balance the books.

There is scepticism in football about how a club that revealed a £121 million loss in their last set of annual accounts can possibly break even within three years.

“We have been in contact with Manchester City, they came here last summer,” said Uefa’s head of licensing Andrea Traverso, speaking to Goal.com at the organisation’s Nyon base. “We are in regular contact with the European Club Association, of which Manchester City is a member. They know the rules.

"Our ambition is to make the rules known by all the clubs – to explain the exact content of the rules and prepare them for this important new step.

“The message we gave to all the clubs and not just Manchester City is, ‘study the new rules and anticipate what will come next’. You cannot change your strategy in one day so you have to start earlier. Your behaviour today will have an impact on the accounts tomorrow.”

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City’s chief executive Garry Cook, and chief financial and administration officer, Graham Wallace, have been publicly bullish about the club’s chances of complying with the new rules.

“We expect our financial performance to position us to be compliant with Financial Fair Play when the regulation starts to come in,” pledged Wallace in the 2010 annual report.

City have also told Uefa that they are confident they will be able to meet the rules. It is believed that City’s chances of breaking even depend heavily on securing improved commercial deals, nurturing graduates from their academy and taking advantage of the TV and commercial boost that qualification for next season’s Champions League will bring.

“Of course, we have seen their accounts,” added Traverso. “I don’t judge their accounts now with regards to Financial Fair Play. They took place in a framework that was, basically, not regulated like it will be in the future. Therefore, their accounts are similar to the accounts of other clubs. I cannot say whether they are good or they are bad.”

Traverso emphatically denied that clubs like City and Roman Abramovich-funded Chelsea have been targeted by Uefa.

“Definitely not, absolutely,” he said. “The Uefa president was accused of introducing a rule mainly targeting English clubs. I can confirm this is not the case. This is proven by facts and figures.

“If you look at the 53 associations, more than half of the top division clubs in Europe reported losses. A large part of those reported losses more than 20 per cent above their revenues. You can find that in all the leagues.

"Definitely, English clubs are not the target. They will be impacted by the rules, as will clubs in Italy, France, Holland, as clubs in all the leagues.”


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