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Football scrambles to tackle debt problem

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David Bond | 07:15 UK time, Friday, 28 May 2010

Uefa president Michel Platini described it as the start of an important journey for European football that would eventually lead to a return of "economic common sense".

Thursday's approval of Uefa's new financial fair play rules means that, for the first time, clubs wishing to compete in the Champions League or Europa League must aim to break even each season.

In addition, club owners will be limited to investing just £38m in the three seasons after the regulations come in, starting in 2012/2013.

The aim is to create a more level playing field but the impact on England's biggest clubs could be very serious. The super rich owners of Chelsea and Manchester City, for example, will no longer be able to pour in hundreds of millions of pounds to write off losses and buy star players.

platini_getty_blog.jpgUefa president Michel Platini wants a more level playing field in Europe - photo: Getty

At the same time, the Premier League - which has been so resistant in the past to the slightest suggestion that its clubs should face a tougher system of regulation than that experienced by all other businesses - is introducing a raft of new financial rules.

The Premier League's annual general meeting next week is set to rubber-stamp a set of laws designed to prevent another Portsmouth-style collapse.

These include new measures which will allow the Premier League to intervene or withhold TV rights payments if it is unhappy with the financial direction the club is travelling in.

For the first time, it will have the power to:

*Assess clubs' financial sustainability through regular monitoring of accounts;

*Block a takeover if there were any doubts over funding;

*Demand full details of all loan agreements;

*Meet any potential new owner to assess their suitability.

But I have learned that next week's Premier League meeting will also include a discussion about introducing even tougher measures to deal with club debts.

With top-flight teams owing a combined £3bn, debt has become the dirtiest word in football, and smaller clubs - such as Wigan and Stoke - are asking whether the Premier League should be doing more to tackle the problem.

Some of the ideas due to be discussed include:

*A ban on all so-called leveraged buy-outs where the club is used as security to borrow the money needed to complete the takeover; (This would have prevented the Glazer acquisition of Manchester United or the sale of Liverpool to Tom Hicks and George Gillett.)

*Limiting the amount clubs can borrow to 25% of their income;

*Introducing a ban on borrowing from any institutions that are not approved by the Financial Services Authority;

*Restricting owner investment to equity and not loans (there is obviously some overlap here with Uefa's new rule);

*Breaking all player transfers down into two instalments - 50% up front with 50% left to pay.

These proposals go way beyond what Uefa passed on Thursday and what the Premier League itself will vote on next week.

Some of the bigger clubs are sure to resist any further measures that bound them in more red tape.

What all this reflects is a realisation, at last, that the vast sums of money being made in football are in danger of being thrown away by those clubs willing to gamble their long-term future on short-term success.

Football may take a while to arrive in Platini's land of common sense but it seems there is at least a will to try and get there.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This can only be a good thing for football. What I do hope is that football realises it is not immune from the rest of the business world and the clubs need to be run as a business and not expect to be exempt because of their 'social status'. It is a crime that clubs such as Portsmouth can be run as they have been and then get away with paying probably no more than 20% of their debts, sort themselves out and probably prosper. Leicester from a few years ago are a classic example of this. A business in the real world would have been wound up months ago.
    Also, I hope it means a return to the days when the classic name clubs such as Ajax, Red Star Belgrade, Anderlecht etc.can actually compete in Europe rather than get thrashed by the big clubs every year. If this leads to the bigger spread of the top players rather then the big clubs buying and stockpiling the best players, it can only lead to better football competitions.

  • Comment number 2.

    It seems to me that these measures could be good for the competitive nature of the Premier League but bad for English football on the European stage. Clubs like Spurs, Villa, Everton and Arsenal who work hard to live within their means so that they stay competitive whilst breaking even will really benefit whereas the Cheslea, Uniteds, Liverpools and Man City may see a large impact on both their finances and their competitiveness within the transfer market. Without the cash (and debt) to bring in the top players its difficult to see English football maintaining the dominance it has had over the Champions League in recent seasons. That said the top clubs will undoubtedly find loopholes to ensure they are not disadvantaged as this seems to be what they do on a regular basis.

  • Comment number 3.

    Its a serious issue and needs to be tackled, but some of the proposals on the table from the EPL are draconian.

    It is one thing to attempt to reduce the risk surrounding investment, but quite another to discourage iinvestment all together.

    History shows how organisations overeact with regulation once a problem is recognised, and it would appear the EPL are in danger of jumping to the other extreme end of the spectrum.

  • Comment number 4.

    A welcome step in the right direction. I believe that the way to tackle the issue is to make it unattractive for clubs to be owned on debt but, like pointed out above, care should be taken that investors aren't put off.

    http://the-fa-premier-league.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 5.

    Is there anything in the new rules that will stop, for example, Abramovich signing a £50m a year shoelace sponsorship agreement with Chelsea, thereby putting money into the club by way of revenue rather than equity investment or loan? Nothing I've read suggests that he couldn't do that.

  • Comment number 6.

    #3: You could be right with your comments about overreacting with legiislation. Very rarely does any governing body get the balance of legislation just right, however if UEFA/EPL etc are to miss that point of balance then better that they do so by landing on the side of excessive prudence as opposed to the excessive largesse. Over time, the balance would be fine tuned to become more appropriate.

    Whilst I do welcome this long overdue action, I also have concerns that it will assist in levelling the playing field. Ultimately, if a clubs available funding for players is determined by turnover then this would actually rule out the scenarios we have seen in the past where unfancied teams, e.g. Blackburn in the early '90s and Newcastle in the mid '90s have benefitted from investment by owners and caused a bit of a shake-up at the top of the league.

    The mini-league at the top of the EPL will arguably become even more exclusive as the teams that have qualified for the CL will be able to add that vast revenue to their turnover, thus strengthening them for the subsequent season, meaning that a CL place could effectively become self-perpetuating.

    Everybody has had good things to say about Fulham this season (quite rightly) but things would have looked very different if they had not been able to take advantage of Al Fayed's interest-free loans.

    Again, thinking about Fulham, they have a ground with a very small capacity. They will need to increase turnover significantly to continue competing at the level they are this season and this will almost certainly mean a significant hike in ticket prices - there is a very real chance that these measures will hit the average fan quite hard. Conversely, those teams that struggle to fill their ground may well find themselves lowering costs to ensure higher turnout, so there could be some benefit.

    Overall I think things are moving in the right direction, I do think we should have a pretty thorough think about the possible consequences in the event of some of these measures going through. What looks good and sensible on paper can sometimes hit us hard in practise.

  • Comment number 7.

    A good step, but as with everything their will be a way round it all. Massive sponsorship deals will be next thing to happen, so that an owner will buy a team and sponsor its shirts for x million, and thus bypassing the system. This would in reality be classed as income to the club and not direct cash input.

  • Comment number 8.

    I've said it before on other blogs, but one measure i'd like to introduce is to ban 'undisclosed' transfers. How can you have proper accounting and transparency when this word is banded about all the time?

    How much did portsmouth pay for Utaka, Boateng, Crouch, Defoe etc etc, no one knows. If these figures were known then perhaps alarm bells might have started ringing before.

  • Comment number 9.

    Although broadly in favour of the proposals, I don't see how some of the proposals will stand up legally. If someone wants to invest their own money in a football club, or indeed any other business they should have the right to do so. Indeed they also should have a right to borrow money to finance an expansion, if they think they can pay it back long term. For example if a club needs to borrow money to build a new stand they should be able to.
    The big problem in football is transfer fees, with some of the bigger clubs paying stupid wages of £100k plus per week, which inflatesd the wages that players expect throughout football, and means that championship clubs are having to pay up to £20k per week to their players, something none of them can afford.

  • Comment number 10.

    I feel like while this is a good idea, another far simpler way to cut back excess spending is by putting a salary cap on player's (and manager's for that matter - mourinho) individual wages. Paying anyone 200k plus a week to play football is insane, no matter how good they are. I think this would also inspire more club loyalty in players.

  • Comment number 11.

    Does this mean that there are 3(three) seasons for this to take effect??won't Chelsea, Man City etc just go on spend loads on players before this deadline.try the players into longer contacts, so the when the rule "that club owners will be limited to investing just £38m in the three seasons after the regulations come in, starting in 2012/2013".No other club could buy these players??
    Only the Clubs with very large stadiums(ie 50,000+) will have the revenue to complete, leaving the smaller clubs at a real disadvantage for all time. Not very well though out, small & medium size clubs will never complete

  • Comment number 12.

    The aim is to create a more level playing field but the impact on England's biggest clubs could be very serious. The super rich owners of Chelsea and Manchester City, for example, will no longer be able to pour in hundreds of millions of pounds to write off losses and buy star players.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    It may mean an end to people doing a 'Chelsea', 'Man City' or a 'Hoffenheim' but as spending will be tagged to revenue the same rules will apply for all and mean that the status of the big clubs will actually be cemented by these proposals. In England it will mean that clubs like Newcastle and Leeds with bigger fan base revenues will be favoured over the likes of Fulham and Wigan. I don't see how it could apply any other way.

    Wonder also if the TV companies who fund the EPL will scale back their funding input. After all why give more than clubs need, or more than they could reasonably spend on players? Sky and ESPN will be doing their sums already!

    It could be also be potentially fatal for clubs like Ajax, PSV, Rangers and Celtic in their attempts to get to the CL because while they have big fan bases they don't have access to big TV deals to bump up their revenue. Again the status quo for the big 5 leagues in the CL is protected. Well done Mr Platini you were not supposed to be about this!

    Interesting to see how they will enforce it and whether any such action results in a legal challenge around restrictions on trade for 'sporting businesses'. In the end it may actually be quite 'toothless' in EU law.

    Creative accountants will be much in demand and you've got to think people like Abramovitch will find ways around this.

    I would have been more impressed if they had actually directly tackled levels of indebtedness.

  • Comment number 13.

    A quick look through the Premier League club's financial situations clearly shows who the winners and losers are when it comes to overall debt.

    It's a testament to the very solid way Tottenham Hotspur are run that they were not only able to qualify for the UEFA Champions League last season but did so without incurring massive debt or spending a huge amount on player's wages.

    Full details available here:

    http://www.myfootballfacts.com/PremierLeagueFinances.html


  • Comment number 14.

    The phrase 'closing the stable door after the horse has bolted' springs to mind. These new measures are just rearranging deck chairs on the titanic.

  • Comment number 15.

    Spurs ? don't kid yourselves they have spent over a hundred million
    Could be a Redknapp trifecta. Southampton went under, Portsmouth went under. The only thing that will save Spurs is the "You don't have to be Champions League" money
    Villa ? again, plenty spent there as well
    Equity not loans ? The Arabs at City have already turned 250 million of advances into equity. What stops them from simply throwing more and more into equity ???
    Let's face it, if you look back a couple of years, Platini's catchword was "Debt !!" The big evil was "Debt !!"
    Having realised that by targetting debt he would be punching Utd and Liverpool in the chops, he turned full circle and focussed on teams being able to spend in proportion to revenue.
    Yet again the big boys get bigger and the also rans remain just that.
    Straight from the horses mouth the UEFA official said it wasn't about levelling the playing field it was about the mid table clubs not spending money they don't have in the pursuit of the big clubs.
    In other words.... just be happy with your lot and don't upset the big players.
    It's all tripe dressed up in whipped cream




  • Comment number 16.

    Why is it itinerant contributors can spot the obvious but BBC editors, Michel Platini et al can't. What these rules will do is make the big clubs bigger and the rest will play in "rump leagues". It must be obvious to anyone with a brain cell that Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona will find a way round the rules that precisely comply with the rules. #5's shoelace sponsorship being the obvious way.
    Clearly football finances are out of hand but this is not the way to fix it.
    The best way, it seems to me is get the contributors to this blog to think up something better.
    They seem to have a lot more idea.

  • Comment number 17.

    @2 You talk as if Manchester United have gained some sort of competitive advantage from being in debt when the reality is the club has actually been hindered. The club is entirely self-financing save that now it needs to spend it's income on debt repayments rather than players. No borrowed money has been used on players, it was all used to fund the takeover. Fans of other clubs should be forever indebted to the Glazers, without them United's spending power coupled with fanbase and history would have left them untouchable.

    When the club was debt free it could splurge cash every summer and frequently break records. Now the books have to be balanced.

    One club that in theory this should curb is Real Madrid. Their summer splurge last summer was done using bank money. How convenient that this move to change should occur after they have used debt to rob 2 other great clubs and leagues of their best players in Kaka and Ronaldo.

  • Comment number 18.

    At long last, but too late for LFC & MUFC.

  • Comment number 19.

    *Block a takeover if there were any doubts over funding*

    This rule should have come in long ago. Like in the NFL yesterday.

  • Comment number 20.

    I dunno why I said yesterday there :)

  • Comment number 21.

    Spain, are not going to do this, and we'll fall even further behind Madrids and Barcas...

    This may be good for Stokes and Wigans for competing with Evertons and Villas, but it's not good for English representation in Europe.

  • Comment number 22.

    At 11:10am on 28 May 2010, bellwaldron wrote:
    Spurs ? don't kid yourselves they have spent over a hundred million


    Well yes, but how much have Tottenham received from selling players on?

    Or don't you think making a profit of almost £20 million from players like Berbatov or over £16 million from Carrick should count?

    The net amount Spurs have paid for players (about £9.5 million a year during the Premier League era) is well within their operating budget and there was no need to amass any outside debt in doing so.

    Have a close look at Tottenham Hotspur's player transfer history and then you might have more of an idea about what you're talking about:

    http://www.myfootballfacts.com/TottenhamHotspurPlayerTransferHistory1908-2009.html

  • Comment number 23.

    This is the definitive end of FALSE "english football dominance" of the last years. The best TV trailer about this problem was the Champion Leauge final in Madrid between Inter (Italy) vs Bayern (Germany), and NO English teams in the semifinals!!! Why? Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal have cutted the investments because high debts. They spending above their means, a suicidal tendency. Already proven 4-8 years ago by Italian clubs, the sale of irrational figures (Kaka & Ibrahimovic), expensive but not more effective for the teams and the budget of the clubs is just the final example. Bye bye Liverpool-Chelsea-Manchester United-Arsenal-Real Madrid your artificial world don't exits more!!! The football is always BALANCE in the field (offense and defense), and in life (spending and revenues). That's why Italy and Germany have for years been the leading nations, the 4 + 3 World Cup are not an accident. England will return to Real World?

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    A salary cap is the only way. I would suggest £2000 per week. If anyone thinks that is not enough they need to get a reality check. If the players don't like it they could always go and work in a factory for a quarter of that amount.

    This is still a lot of money. In a ten year career its over £1m. The short career argument doesn't work today either. No-one has a job for life these days.

  • Comment number 26.

    Totally agree with any legislation which restricts the likes of the glazers and hicks/gillettes taking over clubs - their modus operandis, by loading clubs with debt to fund takeovers, are harmful to the game, and risk bankruting and destroyong great footballing institutions.

    But surely the abramovichs and sheik mansours should be encouraged? The money they pump in helps football teams all the way down the footballing pyramid, with money trickeling down through transfers.

  • Comment number 27.

    So basically Murdoch will be running the EPL. If SKY withdraw from their TV deal they would all go to the wall and not be able to play in the CL, they can use this as a way to pressurise the FA even further. As for the legality, of course UEFA can stipulate rules for their competitions just as every other sport can.
    Can't help feeling that it's not going to work as the clubs who will be able to spend the most are the big clubs. I would have thought a wage cap(at boardroom and player level) would be the first step, followed by a limit on the number of players a team can hold the registration for. Transfer fees should be replaced by compensation linked to the players earnings(give the selling club a % instead of agents). Players don't need agents, only agents need agents.

  • Comment number 28.

    This is the definitive end of FALSE "english football dominance" of the last years. The best TV trailer about this problem was the Champion League final in Madrid between Inter (Italy) vs Bayern (Germany), and NO English teams in the semifinals!!! Why? Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal have cutted the investments because high debts. They spending above their means, a suicidal tendency. Already proven 4-8 years ago by Italian clubs, the sale of irrational figures (Kaka & Ibrahimovic), expensive but not more effective for the teams and the budget of the clubs is just the final example. Bye bye Liverpool-Chelsea-Manchester United-Arsenal-Real Madrid your artificial world don't exits more!!! The football is always BALANCE in the field (offense and defense), and in life (spending and revenues). That's why Italy and Germany have for years been the leading nations, the 4 + 3 World Cup are not an accident. England will return to Real World?

  • Comment number 29.

    Re. #5.
    Russian Blue, That's exactly my thought! UEFA people's experience in corporate finance seems to be limited and their regulations look naive. I've seen a bigger and more sophisticated "chinese walls" being breached in Russia by local businessmen who look like geniuses when compared to UEFA.

  • Comment number 30.

    #2 Do many really care outside the top 4 whether our clubs are succesful on the European stage. These are clubs with the odd English players but mainly the galacticos. If it brings the 4 top 4 closer to the rest, then good. I personally am more worried for the middle ranking clubs and ensuring financial viability. How many of the CCC, L1 & L2 clubs with great histories are teetering close to the precipice. Focus is so PL biased that is risks cutting adrift the rest. That for me is the scary bit.

  • Comment number 31.

    Why do people keep bringing up Chelsea? Last year, the only purchased acquisition was Yuri Zhirkov. For the most part, since the first 2 years of splashing the cash, RA has been very conservative with his funds. The greatest part of spending has been on infrastructure (the training centre at Cobham, the academy) and on one-time compensation payments to former management (huge payments to Scolari and friends). These will not be factors for the next set of financials. Chelsea are not yet breaking even, but their spending has become responsible, and should allow a breakeven within the UEFA deadlines unless a new spending spree is embarked on (I truly hope not).

  • Comment number 32.

    I think that this will result in 2 things happening.
    1. Ticket prices will rise. The reason for this is simple, this will bring more revenue, so more can be spent whilist still breaking even. This will greatly favour clubs with large grounds. Expect the bigger clubs (with only 40 or 50K capacity) to want to expand their grounds or build new ones.
    2. Acadamies will have to be improved greatly and local talent will be fostered more and more, especially by the clubs that don't have big revenue streams. This will do 2 things as well. Local talent will cost even more than it does now but it will give young players more chance of getting a gig at the bigger clubs. This will favour the mid tier clubs from the continent that for years have been a nursery for the big clubs.
    All in all, once again, a win for the big clubs in my eyes. Although there is some logic in people saying that it will create a more even playing field, I am not so sure.
    Player wages may be under threat as well. Surely clubs cannot continue to keep paying the astronomical wages of the top players for much longer under this new system.
    Makes you wonder if the top clubs will consider a breakaway league like was discussed a few years back. Platini will need to be careful to make sure he does not piss the big clubs off too much or I am sure that the talk will start again. Imagine a Euro Super League with Barca, Real, Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Celtic, Rangers, Ajax, PSV, Lyon, PSG, Sparta, Inter, AC Milan, Roma, Bayern, Hamburg, CSKA, Locomotive etc.
    Wow, that would kill Uefa and the TV money would be too much to think about. Food for thought...

  • Comment number 33.

    What people tend to miss is that clubs will spend relative to their income... i.e. imcome based spending. This will serve to further alienate the smaller clubs in the Premier League. True, there will be less debt, and it will be decidedly harder for clubs to enter administration - however the rich will still get richer and the poor will stay weak.

    Let's take the "top 4" for example, this year Chelsea, Man Utd, Aresenal and Tottenham - for Tottenham alone this will mean almost a minimum of £30 million extra for this season. On an income based system, Tottenham will be in a much better position than the likes of Liverpool heading into the future. The way I see it is that any clubs that get into the Champions League at the start of the 2012/2013 season will stay there (unless of course the limited spending means we're less competitive and lose a place) because on an income/ turnover based system these teams will be far better off.

    Managing will get tougher... some shrewed purchases will need to be made (something that Wigan seem to be pretty good at, for examples look at Valencia, Palacios and probably Figeroua).

  • Comment number 34.

    @ 5. Russian Blue, no there's probably nothing to stop Abramovich from taking a £50m shoestring deal with Chelsea and getting round the rules that way, but by doing this he wouldn't be giving the club an 'interest free loan' which is what has been happening and why Chelsea are labelled with so much debt...he'd unlikely to just give his money away as so many stupidly believe he is currently doing.

  • Comment number 35.

    Chelsea might not have spent much on buying players but just look at how much they pay the players they have. It is totally ridiculous and ultimately unsustainable.

    What if Spain don't follow the rules. Who cares? So they will have the European final between Barcelona and Real Madrid each year. Not a lot of future in that. They can't buy everyone.

    Most people recognise that football is a business. The big problem is that they think that its the clubs that are the business where in fact it is the sport itself. It is a business unlike any other, there must be proper competition to make it successful.

  • Comment number 36.

    At long last an attempt to reign in the excesses of European Football, and judging from some contributors to this column it has stirred up a great deal of paranoia and zenophobia. The measure isnt aimed primarily at the English Premier League, although with the exception of Real Madrid and Barcelona, they are the prime offenders, due almost entirely to the greed that has followed the money put up by Sky, very little of which finds it's way down the food chain but also to the "Foreign Benefactors" who bankroll a very small number of clubs, removing virtually all chance of any club other than those with this backing to make any impact. Yes they will try and get around the new rules, especially those who have become used to the Champions League Millions, but perhaps if that money was to be diverted to the grass roots of football in Europe and the main prize was the genuine distinction of being the best team in the competition then those shadowy backers might not be so interested in buying up clubs.

  • Comment number 37.

    Surely the borrowing/25% of income link is anti-competitive? I can't see why the smaller clubs would be pushing for it - it would appear to be to their detriment if they hold any ambition. Clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal with 50,000+ stadiums and mass merchandising would be at a massive advantage to the likes of Blackpool etc. Even that though would pale in comparison to the difference between Premier League and european clubs if we were the only ones to implement such a scheme - how would the allowed borrowing of the top four compare with that of Real Madrids borrowing?
    http://sportales.com/soccer/kopstuff-27510-hicks-talks-money-stopper-antolovic-anfield-bound/

  • Comment number 38.

    #28
    I'm Scottish but even I can think back not too far when English clubs dominated the Italians and the Germans: Liverpool, Nottingham Forest!?

    Btw Real Madrid are not English, or are you including them and Barca as well?

    Return to the real world: Italian clubs and the match fixing and bribes to refs that were on offer at home and in Europe in the 80's and 90's? Or do you think Roma best Dundee Utd 'fair and square' in the European Cup semi in 1984?

  • Comment number 39.

    Clubs like Spurs, Villa, Everton and Arsenal who work hard to live within their means

    Villa? VILLA? Randy learner has put in £140m so far. Last year Villa posted losses of around £43m last year.

    With these rules Villa are going to be in big trouble.

  • Comment number 40.

    I believe that no real football fan would want a super euro league as discussed above as much as the big clubs seem to think they do. For most footie fans the big game is the local derby and the bragging rights that brings.

    The reason why, for example, Man U v Real Madrid is such a big game currently is because of its irregularity. If it happened twice a season it would lose the magic.

  • Comment number 41.

    "Clubs like Spurs, Villa, Everton and Arsenal who work hard to live within their means so that they stay competitive whilst breaking even will really benefit whereas the Cheslea, Uniteds, Liverpools and Man City may see a large impact on both their finances and their competitiveness within the transfer market."
    __________________________________

    Nah, the big clubs still have bigger revenue streams, and are better able to grow their revenues. Which is going to be the only way to grow your transfer budget, no?

    On top of that, being top tier clubs is an advantage of it's own in the transfer market. Taken in concert, the top tier clubs will still have an advantage of their brethren who aren't so blessed.

    The gap will be greatly reduced. But, that is probably sufficient.

    It *might* even be enough to alter the landscape enough for some of the "feeder" clubs to stop feeding and chase real success. One or two might even attain it.

  • Comment number 42.

    Iff, you are correct, of course. Salaries in all of football are way out of whack, but I get the feeling, based on recent happenings, that Chelsea, and any number of other clubs, are looking for ways to remedy this. Chelsea have committed to bringing through at least 5 youth/reserve players into the first team squad, and I can see that at least 2 or 3 first teamers will be leaving in the summer, some with appreciable incomes.

    RA is a businessman, and pretty good at it, so he knows about the need to eventually balance the books. He came in with a standard business model - get the tools to bring the company up to speed, then allow these tools to work for you. It always costs more at the beginning. And sometimes, the tools don't work so well, so you replace them, which costs a bit more. Eventually, the spending will slow to match incomes, or the company fails, no matter the level of wealth of the owner.

  • Comment number 43.

    So basically, what this is saying, is that if you are a poor team, you will always be a poor team.

    I think this has just secured Man United/Arsenal/Liverpool, and to a lesser extent, Chelsea (as global brands) their long term future.

    While we had hoped the Premier League domination would be broken up with spenders like Man City et al, now we can see the same teams win it from now until forever. (Unless ManU / Liverpool go bankrupt).

    Anyways, why not propose a wage cap, and investment based on the wealth of the club (inlcuding the owner, if he puts up the cash).

    Doesn't bother me as a Chelsea fan, Abramo, being so rich with have connections to put money in through different means. They have also been building a brand to increase revenue.

    Though I am sore for city in some way, since their brand is less profitable, therefore can't spend as much, despite the owner wanting to increase the brand by getting in class players.

    The big teams can sell lots of things to increase revenue, Stadium leases, sponsorships etc etc. Madrid won't stop spending, but Man City will, that isn't fair.

    Also, with less spending from the rich, the mediocre will recieve less silly money for average players (Lescott), and get less freebies from the big teams.

  • Comment number 44.

    13. At 10:40am on 28 May 2010, THFC6061 wrote:

    A quick look through the Premier League club's financial situations clearly shows who the winners and losers are when it comes to overall debt.

    It's a testament to the very solid way Tottenham Hotspur are run that they were not only able to qualify for the UEFA Champions League last season but did so without incurring massive debt or spending a huge amount on player's wages.

    Full details available here:

    http://www.myfootballfacts.com/PremierLeagueFinances.html

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A table of Premier League Finances for the 2007-08 season is a little bit meaningless when using it to extol the virtues of how your club is run in 2010.

    The debt figures are woefully out of date on this list.

  • Comment number 45.

    Its good to see uefa and the premier league agree to force clubs to stop spending big! This will help all the premier league and European clubs benefit economically in the future. This will stop them getting massive debts. The two main clubs with massive debts are Liverpool and Manchester United. This new regulation will help and force these two clubs to reduce their debts.

    Some clubs like Chelsea and Arsenal are ok financially at the moment, these clubs will always break even. All these massive European and English clubs are getting loads of revenues from the big commercial deals with big sponsors and TV revenues!

    Why haven't these financial rules and regulations been introduced earlier? Its a bit too late now for some clubs, e.g. Portsmouth, Liverpool and Manchester United!!! Money is so important is football these days!

  • Comment number 46.

    the big clubs will stay big - that is certainly true. United/madrid etc will continue to dominate

    As for the state of english football - there is more money coming in from sponsorship and tv money than any other league so the english won't be going away at any point soon. Real and barca play in a diddy league where they get all the tv money and alas that won't change. But what you will find is these rules favour the germans who have been operating under restrictions like this for years.

    and manchester city are in trouble - I just cannot see how they can get those kind of debts under control in just a couple of year - but if you're a sugar daddy I suppose you can buy a club pay for an academy to try and find a mega star while building a huge stadium and try and fill it constantly ramping up prices until revenue allows you to compete at the top table.

    A bit tough but surely that is better than chelsea and city's blank cheque book approach

  • Comment number 47.

    Good article. This is at least a move in the right direction by Platini, and you can see how these new rules would deter the mega-rich from spending their way to quick success in the future, if they were properly enforced. However, although what Chelsea have done and Manchester City are trying to do may have annoyed fans of other clubs and distorted competition it didn't really hurt the game in this country. I can't help thinking that it's a huge mistake to target these people first when it is the likes of the Americans in the north-west who are actually threatening the health of our clubs. Or is it just that interfering with the business of who can purchase football clubs and how they finance it is outside of UEFA's control?

    http://www.theplaymaker.co.uk/

  • Comment number 48.

    No need for daft regulations.

    1. Limit squad size.
    2. Limit number of foreign born players.
    3. Introduce a club salary cap.

    The problems would be solved in one or two seasons.



  • Comment number 49.

    This can only be a good thing for football. What I do hope is that football realises it is not immune from the rest of the business world and the clubs need to be run as a business
    ----------

    Clearly you are another "armchair financial guru" who knows nothing about the subject or you would understand the delicious irony in your statement.

    These rules will mean that clubs are NOT run like the rest of the business world.

    The business world lives on loans, companies are perennially in debt and that is a GOOD thing. Most companies lend money so that they can invest it and gain a higher rate of return than the interest that they pay.

    Major companies and owners regularly invest huge sums of money at one time in infrastructure/asset improvement, far in excess of the arbitrary £38m, again in order to make more money in the medium/long term.



    Clubs ARE businesses, they should be run within their means and in the best interests of the shareholders, but that is not for UEFA or the FA to decide, let the clubs sort themselves out, let the greedy fans who call for more investment all the time to push their little clubs to "the next level" pay for it with higher prices or losing their team. eventually the well run clubs will come out on top regardless of debt or turnover levels.

    Any attempt to mollycoddle clubs into looking after themselves will also badly stifle the ability of clubs who are run properly from achieving success.

  • Comment number 50.

    We will see the explosion of football sponsorship, on shorts, socks, anything they can, and massive deals. Whats to stop owners buying Joe Bloggs bubblegum, and popping 100m a year deal to pop Joe's Gum on back of the clubs shorts. Not direct investment.
    Back in days of US football and salary caps, they managed to get around things by negotiating with companies for sponsorship deals to cover excess in a players salary.

  • Comment number 51.

    Financial regulation can only be good for football. Many fans of my vintage remember when your team was your club - not the plaything of the super rich. But before we cast stones, perhaps we can all declare that we are debt-free?

  • Comment number 52.

    Uefa's measures will help ensure that clubs don't get into financial difficulty; they won't create a level playing-field. The only way to do that would be to impose upper limits on transfers and salaries. The proposals, as they stand, will just return the advantage to the clubs that generate the most income e.g. Manchester United in England; Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain. Unless general limits are imposed, if wealthy owners are prepared to spend money on the club, as opposed to loan it, then I don't see why that should be prohibited, and I doubt that it would withstand a legal challenge.

  • Comment number 53.

    Man United, Barca, AC Milan, Real Madrid. etc have large revenue streams that took decades of on-field success, trophy wins, stadium reconstruction and global marketing to produce.

    Yes, I think it is fair to say these clubs did EARN that money and they have every right to spend a proportion of that annually on transfers and wages.

    What is ludicrous is Chelsea, and particularly Man City, both clubs who have far smaller revenue streams and are run at losses every year, spending £100s of millions on transfer spending and wages. Only to have this debt 'written off' at the end of every year.

    Except of course, it isn't really written off, as some fans seem to think City and Chelsea are debt free because the respective websites tell them so. In the case of Chelsea, Abramovich thought converting his loan into shares from Chelsea Limited (holding company) to Chelsea FC would make it appear like the debt is cleared. However, of course, Chelsea Limited still owe £726 million to Abramovich personally and he will never see that money returned.

    It would take decades and decades of treble wins and global marketing to even see a fraction of that returned. Chelsea have made losses for 10 years yet somehow they continue to buy players and compete for trophies, in essence, why is this even allowed at present? Chelsea's losses last year were $73 million, which comically were their lowest since Abramovich took over. That really tells you all you need to know.

    Although what is funny is Man City 'fans' who claim to be so loyal and passionate for the club being perfectly happy with their club being used solely as a marketing tool for Abu Dhabi. You are at the Sheikh's mercy as your transfer spending since he arrived already eclipses Man City's actual value.

    Incidentally, last year, Man City spent 97% of their total revenue (not profit, they didn't make any) on wages alone, please tell me, is that fair and right? Or is that just stark raving mad?

  • Comment number 54.

    There was already a growing realization amongst football clubs that there is a greater value in investing in facilities than spending on players and their wages.

    As usual, regulation is behind the curve, coming in at the tail end of a problem, when the actors in the field have already begun to take steps to pull back from previous excesses. At best, it is 20/20 hindsight, at worst it is counter-productive.

    http://footballinsights.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/financial-stability-v-expensive-signings/
    http://footballinsights.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/building-stadia-reinventing-the-future/

    "53. At 1:56pm on 29 May 2010, Cynical_Joe MUFC OK wrote:

    Man United, Barca, AC Milan, Real Madrid. etc have large revenue streams that took decades of on-field success, trophy wins, stadium reconstruction and global marketing to produce.

    Yes, I think it is fair to say these clubs did EARN that money and they have every right to spend a proportion of that annually on transfers and wages."

    This is to ignore the fact that the most successful clubs, including both Manchester United and Real Madrid, have had benefactors at some point in their history.

    It is one thing to prevent the continuation or recurrence of the financial excesses over the past decade of English football in particular, it is another to protect the dominant forces in Europe.

    It is not apparent that UEFA’s new financial regulations fall on the right side of the line.

    http://footballinsights.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/rich-benefactors-the-end-of-history/

  • Comment number 55.

    Spain, are not going to do this, and we'll fall even further behind Madrids and Barcas...

    This may be good for Stokes and Wigans for competing with Evertons and Villas, but it's not good for English representation in Europe.

    ...............................................................

    Totally agree. I live in Spain and am sick of hearing the garbage over football finance and the rubbish that some British journalists come out with, praising madrid and Barcelona as if they are some sort of "fan-owned" socialist institutions. They are the worst culprits in Europe - financed illegaly with public money through tax evasion and rule-bending, and in NO WAY will they adhere to any laws which restrict their practices.

    (All irrelevant though I suppose as UEFA would not punish them anyway.)

  • Comment number 56.

    Whilst I can understand the reasoning behind this, the downside is that it will only serve to preserve the current established order in football. This may be good for UEFA but will not be good for the game of football in the long term.
    Teams like Man U who have now built significant income streams, will have a distinct, unfair, advantage that will not be challenged.
    Many of the fans of Man U, although maybe not all, sanctimoniously sprout forth tripe about other clubs, particularly my club Manchester City for some unknown reason (I often wonder why that is?!), spending large amounts when their current revenue is not at their club's level! The question that I have to ask these people is, "How do you think your clubs achieved their current status? The answer to that question is by spending more money than anyone else to secure the purchase of many of the best players around at the time! Utd, for example, spent many a year spending more than any other English club in a relentless pursuit of success. A fair proportion of this spending came from the pockets of wealthy owners! Once it had been eventually achieved, the income floodgates opened, allowing them to build on the initial success and grow into what we see today.
    The same will happen for City when they are successful. Then the income streams will accelerate rapidly, allowing the club to sustain it's position amongst the elite clubs of Europe. The capital investment is needed to achieve the initial success, with the club becoming self sufficient by increasing revenue from gate receipts, advertising, sponsorship & merchandise sales. The stadium capacity is increased, as more fans want to watch a successful team and the income snowballs.
    It is just the same with a business, the initial capital investment launches the company and it then increases it's turnover over time until it becomes established. What is happening at City is a long-term business model. In a few years the club will be worth far more than it was bought for by Sheikh Mansour. The club will have moved forward massively within 3 years and the revenues generated will confirm this. As far as investment is concerned, it should not affect City as their owner is prepared to 'give' money to the club, rather than loan it! Therefore, he could get any of his numerous companies to enter in to a very lucrative sponsorship deal with City, thereby providing income if required.
    I see this as more of an issue relating to clubs such as Leeds, Newcastle and Portsmouth, to name just a few. These are clubs who have actually borrowed excessive amounts of money to fund their failed attempts to reach the elite level of English & European football and that is the fundamental difference between these clubs and City. City have no debt and would still be in a far better position if Sheikh Mansour walked away tomorrow than they were when he purchased the club. That can not be said of the majority of other clubs though and if the new rulings are ultimately successful in preventing clubs from`suffering financial meltdown then I would have to grudgingly say that is not a bad thing.
    Personally, I think that it will seek to prevent unscrupulous 'owners', like the Glazers and Gillet and Hicks from 'buying a club' by effectively using the club as collateral and subsequently transferring all the debt onto the club, thereby effectively crippling the club whilst making themselves £100s of millions of pounds. These 'owners' have effectively acquired their clubs without using any of their own money but will make a fortune when they sell it on, as they will invariably do so! These people have used the respective clubs as 'cash cows' and have sought to bleed them dry for their own ends. If Pratini's (No, it isn't a spelling mistake!!) rule changes prevent these individuals from purchasing clubs without them using their own finances, then that WILL prove to be good for football in the long term.

  • Comment number 57.

    48. At 6:49pm on 28 May 2010, The Midland 20 wrote:
    No need for daft regulations.

    1. Limit squad size.
    2. Limit number of foreign born players.
    3. Introduce a club salary cap.

    The problems would be solved in one or two seasons.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    1. & 3. I agree
    2. This takes the 6 + 5 rule a step further but I see problems with this: it's probably against EU employment legislation (which is a sore point on Jersey as we have to enforce it even though we're not part of the EU) and does each country in the UK have to class the other 3 as foreign due to them having separate FAs? What about those who were born outside that country but could qualify to play for them under the grandparent rule? What about here in the CI where they haven't been able to get full affiliation to FIFA and UEFA (Jersey hasn't, I don't know if Guernsey have even tried) so have to be a county FA but players born here are eligible to play for 5 countries?

  • Comment number 58.

    56. At 01:43am on 30 May 2010, Scott Clarke wrote:

    ----------------------------------------------------

    I can see the frustration from your point of view with people attacking Man City for transfer and wage expenditure.

    But when you say the likes of Man United used to spend higher levels of money than their revenue streams because of large benefactors I think you know this is not true.

    Man United as far back as I can remember have been self-sufficient, a lot of money was raised by floating Man United PLC on the stock market, although Magnier and McManus had controlling stakes in the club none of the transfer expenditure was subsidised by them.

    In the case of Man City, you have a club that is worth £157 million, and yet bidding £100 million for Kaka? Or yet worse spending circa £200 million on players. Your transfer expenditure isn't just bigger than your revenue streams, it is bigger than the entirety of the club's value! Or for example last year, Man City spent 97% of the their revenue on wages alone.

    City are obviously not the only ones, as this 'financial fair play' is squarely aimed at two clubs in particular, Chelsea being the other one. How can a club like Chelsea be indebted (via two holding companies) to Abramovich to the tune of £726 million? Don't forgot the club is only worth £392 million, that is nearly twice as much.

    I just think it is common-sense that if you are not regulary making profits (ala Man City & Chelsea) and you are spending beyond your means and running up losses through a large benefactor that Platini is right; you should be banned for European competitions.

  • Comment number 59.

    It seems the PL is finally waking up.

  • Comment number 60.

    32.redintweed wrote:Imagine a Euro Super League with Barca, Real, Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Celtic, Rangers, Ajax, PSV, Lyon, PSG, Sparta, Inter, AC Milan, Roma, Bayern, Hamburg, CSKA, Locomotive etc.
    Wow, that would kill Uefa and the TV money would be too much to think about. Food for thought...


    I wish them good luck with that. I do not personally know anyone who's interested in that sort of thing. And also, UEFA and FIFA will tell players 'thou shalt not play in UEFA/FIFA sanctioned events' (ie World Cup ea). Most people want our national leagues to continue, and have no interest in Porto v Hamburg or Celtic v Roma in a league setting (outside UEFA CL/EL). Just think about the Old Firm, who says both of those will be in the same European league in the long run?

    I also think, like a few others here, that a limitation of squad size and maybe a wage ceiling of 50-60% of turnover are called for. Clubs in Euro tournaments need to be on a more level playingfield, and not situations where one club can happily accumulate debt and get away with it whereas another would see license revoked for the slightest overspending.

    The reason why so many of todays 'top Euro sides' are entrenched as top sides in their domestic leagues and outsiders have a hard time breaking in is precisely because of the lack of such measures in the last few years. Introducing these kind of rules will give other clubs a chance again on the longer run. I mean, in 7 of the last 9 seasons the socalled 'big four clubs' actually finished 1st to 4th, usually in pretty much the same order too.

  • Comment number 61.

    Re: 58. Cynical_Joe MUFC OK

    I appreciate the point that you are trying to make but you are trying to mix two very different eras and trying to draw parallels from them.
    This is not possible because modern football finance and football finance in the late 70s and 80s are so different! Also, you may note that I did not at any point say that Man U had spent more than their revenue! What I DID say was that they spent more money than any other club in pursuit of success. Once that was achieved, Utd then grew all available revenue streams to become what we see today. Tell me what isn't factually correct about that?
    The major difference between those times and present day football finance are the hugely staggering amounts involved today. Today, one half-decent player earns more than a whole squad did back then!
    Another major mistake you make is harping on about debt, such as Chelsea's. How many times do you need to be told that Manchester City FC do not have any debt!! Unlike your club! You harp on about City spending £200 million on transfer fees, which has not been financed by borrowed money, but do not mention the £400 million or so that Arsenal borrowed to finance the building of Ashburton Gove! I'm sure that you'll say that in time it will pay for itself and I would certainly agree with you if you did! My point is that the money was borrowed, no matter what sort of spin or wording is applied to it. Arsenal didn't have the money in the bank to pay for it, so it was borrowed then, wasn't it? Does that mean that Arsenal shouldn't have been allowed to do it? They would have been stuck in the 35,000 capacity Highbury and would never have been able to grow their income and the stature of the club. As I have stated in my previous posting, investment is the springboard for future achievement, if done to a specific business plan. With Arsenal, it was buying a stadium, with City, it is buying a team. Both are expensive but will ultimately be the springboard for future success for the footballing side of the respective clubs, as well as the off field growth of the clubs.
    To hark back to Man U, since they eventually became successful they have steadily increased the capacity at Old Trafford from around 50,000 to it's present day 75,300. Arsenal needed to do it in one fell swoop and, for me, did the right thing. When City are successful, the capacity at CoMS will be increased to cater for the increased demand. The other big issue is the transfer spending. This will obviously not continue in the current vein as once a successful team is established, City will then be able to use their prominence to acquire the top young talent around and will then nurture these players through their academy, thereby producing a production line of home grown top talent, aided buy some player purchases, to maintain the success levels. This is what your team has been doing and, before you say anything, I'm not moaning about it, I'm merely stating a material fact.
    I suppose the bottom line here is that this subject will always provoke debate because football is THE true sport of the world and we, as fans, LOVE IT!!! Roll on the World Cup and next season, when I fully expect a serious attempt by City to challenge for the Premier League title. A top 4th place finish next season will not be seen as a success. Winning is everything, 2nd is nothing!

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    it´s such a vexed issue, balancing irresponsible football financing of all clubs with the aims of wealthy clubowners exercising their right to spend or invest where they deem fit.

  • Comment number 64.

    I think you will find that these new regulations are the very reason why Chelsea and Man City spent so much money this year, because they wont be able to do it when these regulatins come in. I think anything which stops clubs getting into so much debt [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] can only be a good thing as it will men another Portsmouth situation can be avoided.

  • Comment number 65.

    When do these new regulations actually come in? It will be good when football clubs such as City and Chelsea cant rely on debts to make it work, but in reality its just going to make sure that the top clubs stay at the top of the game - they get more money, so can afford the better players.

  • Comment number 66.

    The Premier League has just announced that it paid Manchester United £60m in TV revenues alone this season, whilst they are also in line for another £45m from UEFA in the CL. This should be getting spent on getting better players like Karim Benzema in, and not servicing the Glazer debt!

    Incidentally, with all that money coming in, its no wonder the likes of Birmingham and Stoke can't compete!

  • Comment number 67.

    Just posted something similar on a Gordon Farqaur blog - given that the likes of Chelsea are going out and spending £80m in one single day (on Torres and Luiz), can we really say that this is having an effect.

    United have already spent £17m on David de Gea and they haven't even started! This summer will be the biggest transfer summer with all the big clubs spending their money - UEFA's attempt has been futile to say the least.

  • Comment number 68.

    The Premier League needs to do more to make sure that the clubs are following this. The likes of Chelsea and Manchester City can still so 'financial doping' as long as the owner writes off all the money their owner spends.

    Similarly, as I understand it, Manchester United would be able to 'write off their debt' by moving a few figures around, as the Glazers are the only owners.

    How will my team (Villa) possibly compete?

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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