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October 2016
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Was it Arsenal that implemented FFP laws in Europe?

By Walter Broeckx

In another article the other day I touched the notion of some fans of other clubs giving the impression that it is Arsenal and Wenger who invented and pushed through FFP in football.

Now of course I like to think of Arsenal as being a great club and an important club but the thought of that idea is a bit stupid.

No way Arsenal could have pushed an idea through the throats of the rest of the football world if the rest of the football world wouldn’t agree with the principles.

Yes Arsenal and Wenger have been strong advocates of FFP rules. And yes when other clubs talk about FFP rules they look at the model Arsenal gave them and implemented as the way to move forward without outside money. Arsenal is a model club. I have lost count of other clubs presidents pointing at the Arsenal model on how to build or rebuild their club.

In Holland Arsenal is by most regarded as the model to follow. In Italy I have seen a few club presidents talking about Arsenal as a role model. Such comments are not really reported in the English media. But believe me in other countries when the name Arsenal is said it is not with any derogatory sound to it. It is with admiration and seen as an inspiration.

So one could understand that people who don’t look further than their own club interest get confused and see Arsenal as the big evil behind the FFP rules that forbid their club to spend, spend, spend and spend.

Arsenal have supported the idea but it was not Arsenal that said it had to be done for all clubs. That was a decision made by Uefa. And Arsenal is just one of the hundreds of clubs who are a member of Uefa. Maybe when someone from Arsenal speaks others listen with interest.  But to think that to suggest that when someone from Arsenal speaks all other clubs (apart from the money clubs) say : ‘yes, this is what we will do’  is a bit silly.

The fact is that a lot of clubs in Europe were and are unhappy with the way football moved. They didn’t like the fact that outside money was thrown around as if it was nothing. They didn’t like the fact that clubs with unlimited resources and debt were the ones that were winning things. And yes some clubs didn’t like to lose their power. A power built up over the years because they had been building slowly for it.

Uefa saw the danger of clubs being the plaything of rich owners and who when those owners lose interest or would die suddenly would be without money and would collapse. Stability of football clubs is important because most clubs are important in their community and the long term well-being of clubs can bring damage to communities.

I don’t know how the media in England has reported the FFP rules but I can assure you that it has been the talk of the town in many countries in the years before Uefa came in action. In fact one could say finally came in action. Because the demand of many countries and clubs to Uefa to do something about it could be heard many years before it finally took off.

One could say Arsenal was one of the spiritual leaders in this but Arsenal was not alone. No, a lot of other club owners and presidents wanted it. And because of the majority of the clubs wanting it, Uefa went along with it.

Uefa surely didn’t do it because of just Arsenal wanted it. Platini didn’t do it because Wenger said he should do it. People who know the relationship between Wenger and Platini find it even surprising that Platini would do anything that Wenger likes! They haven’t been the closest friends in the past and that is to put it mildly.

If you look at the way Uefa has witch hunted Wenger at times it is clear to see that Wenger is not really a very much liked person in Uefa headquarters. If they could ban Wenger even for something that they had no real rules for, they went along with it.

So anyone who is suggesting that it was Wenger who imposed the FFP rules is talking rubbish.

For those who really want to attack the FFP rules it would be better to look a bit further than just Arsenal and Wenger. If you really want to blame, then blame all the other clubs in Europe who have supported FFP rules to be implemented. And there are a lot of clubs out there to blame. In fact the big majority of clubs in Europe are to blame then.

But as they are more or less invisible for English football fans they just go for the easy target and blame the one English club that has always openly supported FFP rules.  And blame Wenger as that is the game of the day in the media in the last 18 years.

One thing that I sometimes wonder about is how they would react if it hadn’t been their club that got the gift of outside money. They probably would be advocating FFP rules to be implemented. But once they win the lottery, people forget where they came from and lose the touch with reality very easy.

But in my country the list of former big lottery winners who end up bankrupt is rather long. And that surely is not the way they want their club to end up. So yes it might drag their club back a bit but in the end there might come a day that they will be happy that FFP rules exist. The day their owner calls it a day, the day the owner loses his interest, the day he suddenly dies.  Or is arrested.  Or is overthrown in a coup.

FFP rules should make sure that if that day comes (and one of those options will come along) the club has a chance to survive. But of course that is not the worry for me as an Arsenal supporter at all.

(PS: as my local club in Belgium was some 12 years ago owned by a big spender we got 3 promotions in a row and were on the brink of returning to the top flight. The owner got arrested accused of fraud, the club went almost bankrupt and nearly vanished, the club went down again to the lower leagues and is now still fighting around the 3rd tier of football in my country. Believe me I know all too well how things can go wrong with rich owners. My local club now lives within it means and thank goodness for that).

The Untold Banner is imminent: last chance to add your name to the roll…


13 comments to Was it Arsenal that implemented FFP laws in Europe?

  • M18CTID


    I don’t think for one minute that Arsenal were behind it – there were far bigger culprits that I’ve previously mentioned. What’s now amusing is that 2 of those culprits – AC and Inter – have now been instrumental in getting the FFP rules relaxed because it’s backfired on them.

    Secondly, I know of not a single City fan that would’ve had a problem if our owner had chosen another club. And believe me I know hundreds of City fans personally. Furthermore, if the old FFP rules remained in place then they actually benefit the club more because it restricts another club doing a City and competing with us so the selfish fan inside me ought to be fully behind the regs. But that would make me a total hypocrite – how, for example, could I look an Aston Villa or West Ham fan in the eye and tell them that FFP is a good idea and that their clubs don’t deserve the investment that City have had? I’d be lucky to walk away with my face intact if I said that.

  • But platini has abolished the FFP rules because of PSG-the biggest club in his homeland.
    That’s a pathetic thing for a Uefa president to do.

  • Chidi I would like to see some evidence. The press were reporting that but Platini has spoken about easing the path for new investors, not changing the rules for existing investors.

  • M18CTID

    Not abolished Chidi – just relaxed certain aspects of it.

  • Robert

    Some investment rules have been relaxed. However, clubs wanting to invest more will have to enter into a so-called Voluntary Agreement that will have stringent conditions imposed.

    Also, clubs previously sanctioned, such as PSG and Man City, are not eligible for Voluntary Agreements.

    While some rules have been relaxed, others have been tightened. One in particular is the rule on related party transactions, which sounds like a barb aimed at the likes of PSG and Man City.

  • omgarsenal

    I always enjoy your comments MC18CTID, even if I don’t always see eye to eye with you and find it tiresome to write your moniker out :(, but you are definitely on my wavelength with your comment this time. The hypocrisy and double standards often displayed by Club supporters (including some Gooners who should know better) are breath-taking and lamentable at times!
    There is a certain amount of smoke and mirrors about the entire FFP project and after the revelations about FIFA corruption, one has to doubt the sincerity and fortitude of Platini and company in applying and respecting the spirit,not just the laws for financial doping.
    The son et lumiere (equivalent of smoke and mirrors in French)is based on a lot of blah,blah and nuanced threats directed at the ” big spenders” but what exactly does ” easing” the path for new investors really imply and with Chelsea’s quite clever manipulation of the loan options and sale-resale of Frank Lampard for one, it raises serious questions about the integrity of Platini and the UEFA cabal.
    I for one do not condemn City’s path to success so vehemently. In actual fact i find that it hasn’t really been a good return on the massive investment, even IF the Arsenal did benefit from making a buck on Sagna,Nasri and Clichy. What I find sad is that City didn’t get the bang for their buck they were hoping for…imho.
    It wasn’t as if you’d knowingly bought players like Kalstrom, Silvestre or Santos, who most Gooners knew were stop-gap, shots in the dark type at the time.

  • Pat

    Interesting information about your local club, Walter. A perfect example of what can happen.

    Who in Scotland would ever have thought that Rangers – one of Scotland’s big two teams – would have been demoted from the Scottish Premiership? Absolutely unthinkable – and yet it happened.

  • ARSENAL 13


    I am being selective here, specially what you’ve said about the ‘investment’ thing. Dont you think thats exactly our case here? No matter how you put it, you cant justify the free money that you’ve got. The money you dint earn. Or not have loaned.

    OR if you consider the free money you’ve got as loan, then how sustainable is the debt? You dont earn enough to meet the limits of operating expenses plus the debt repayment.

    A thing to ponder, If that money was loaned to you, would still spend as shamelessly as you’ve done all these years??

  • M18CTID


    Thanks. It’s good to have fans that can see another opinion as it helps promote healthy debate even if they don’t totally agree. Being so firmly entrenched in one’s views is unhelpful and I’ll add that some of our own are guilty of that too. In fact, every club has fans that are like that. On the City forum I post on, I’ve often sprung to the defence of opposition fans in the face of unwarranted attacks from some of our own fans for merely having an alternative opinion or merely correcting errors made by City fans. As long as they’re not trolling then I welcome opposition views.

    Your assumption that City might not have gotten good value for money vs success achieved so far is an interesting one and something I partly agree with. I think our negotiating team could’ve been a bit cuter in the early days of the takeover instead of just paying the asking price all the time. The signings from Arsenal have been a real mixed bag – Adebayor was a flop for the money paid, Kolo’s best days were behind him, Nasri has showed flashes of what he can do but needs to be more consistent, and Sagna didn’t do too much wrong last season but we rarely saw evidence of his attacking qualities that were on show at Arsenal. I’d say Clichy has been far and away the best signing of the five in a value for money sense.

  • M18CTID

    Arsenal 13,

    My point on this is always the same – City aren’t the only club to have money gifted to them. Fiszman gifted money to Arsenal in the mid-1990’s, a fact often overlooked on here so if it’s wrong for City, surely it’s wrong for Arsenal. Or it isn’t wrong at all because this has been happening at football clubs all over the world for the past 100 plus years and it just so happens that City’s owner was prepared to invest more than most.

  • ARSENAL 13


    I googled this matter and guess what. It took me to Untold. February 14 2013 “Who is going to sue Uefa first?”. Same discussion. And no one has a proof to support his claim of ’50 million’ investment.

  • M18CTID

    Arsenal 13,

    Ask Tony Adams – he’ll put you in the picture.

  • Micheal Ram

    Everyday, I began to feel that there are no more adults in charge of things, just bunch of over-grown, immature kids running around a playground with guns.