By Tony Attwood
One of the more unexpected things that comes with publishing this site is the regular stream of emails from people who claim that they have been reading for a long old time, but because we have published x or have mentioned y too often, they are stopping now.
Unexpected because in my life I have meandered from one magazine to another, and in more recent years one website to another, many a time, but I’ve never thought of writing to say farewell. It is rather nice of people to say goodbye.
I’m not sure if anyone is going to leave us because I am now returning to Uefa, or Financial Fair Play (one of my beloved topics) but I hope not, because it seems to me it is important, and I’d like a chance to convince you it is indeed so.
Uefa has a president, and it is not the one we expected. It is Aleksander Ceferin, a guy you may not have heard of (I hadn’t until the notice came out that he was standing). He is a Slovenian lawyer, and he is believed to represent the interest of some of the smaller nations in Uefa.
He also has two issues that he noted in his manifesto that he would consider, and the first is one that gives me a little hope for better times ahead. FFP.
Now I know we are talking about Uefa here so hope doesn’t really spring eternal, but still to have FFP put back on the agenda would be truly wonderful. As we know FFP in Uefa caught out PSG, Man City and others at first, but then it was so watered down it became useless. The Premier League also introduced FFP but its FFP is so weak that no one is caught up in it. But here is a man who wants to balance things up a bit, and for a club like Arsenal that lives by its own income, not by the donations of an oil or gas rich nation that uses slave labour and rejects all women’s rights, or a multi-billionaire who thinks playing with a club is fun, would be rather nice.
We have no more information than the fact that the new man raised the subject when seeking votes, but just raising it as one of two key points as he bid for his job, makes me just a teenzy weenzy bit hopeful.
His second issue is the one where Uefa recently gave Italy, England, Spain and Germany four guaranteed places each in the Champions League and reworked the way the revenue was split to favour those clubs that had previously been most successful.
That deal has not yet been ratified, and it is said among the corridors of Uefa that it was this deal that made the smaller countries rise up and find their own candidate.
Ceferin has been head of the Slovenian Football Association since 2011. He got 42 of the 55 Uefa voting members to support him. Of the deal giving England etc guaranteed places and more money he said, “We were not informed properly,” which sounds about right for Uefa.
The idea of that deal was the stop a breakaway by Spanish and Italian clubs into a new league, and yet it seems that Italy voted for Ceferin. An interesting juxtaposition. Maybe they backed him if he brought in FFP but left the guaranteed four positions alone.
Summing up his position the new man at the helm said, “We should show we are the ones who are the governing body. At the same time we have to have dialogue with the clubs and I’m sure this situation can be solved.”
It is of course possible that some horse trading will go on. The new four guaranteed slots for the top nations could go through untouched, in return for the beefing up of FFP. But we should also remember that China is buying up football clubs all over the place. From WBA, Villa and Wolverhampton to Inter Milan. The Chinese also have part ownerships of Man City and Atlético Madrid. I am not sure they expected this change of direction.
But the new man at Uefa seems serious. “FFP should be enforced more strongly because the gap between the rich ones and the poor ones is wider and wider,” he said. “We have a lot to do.”
Of course you can guess who the FA voted for – and it wasn’t the winner.
The events of the meeting were rather overshadowed by the fact that Fifa’s ethics committee gave the disgraced and banned M. Platini dispensation to make a farewell speech on “humanitarian” grounds.
You can imagine what the erstwhile FA favourite said. “I have a clear conscience. I am certain not to have made any mistake and I will continue to fight this in the courts. I’d like to thank all of you who have had the courage to support me in the last few months.
“I’d like to thank you for these nine years. I think we did a great job. I hope you enjoyed it and are proud of what we achieved. I’m proud. That’s why I wanted to say goodbye and thank you. Friends of football, farewell.”
Farewell indeed. And maybe hello to a very tiny light shining at the end of a very long and very dark tunnel.
- Cognitive dissonance, coercive persuasion and the Arsenal…….
- Rubbish keeper, wrong selection, hopeless tactics. Oh look we drew.
- PSG v Arsenal. The teams, the tactical options, and the loss of Ibrahimovic
- When Arsenal moved into the Ems things weren’t perfect but WHU seem to have much bigger problems
From the Arsenal History Site