By Tony Attwood
A small group of top clubs is willing to take legal action if nothing is done to stop Chelsea, Man City and possibly others evading Uefa’s financial fair play system.
Having put their concerns in writing to the League, Arsenal, Liverpool, Man U and Tottenham, are now openly stating that the full financial fair play rules should be introduced into the League. And that if Uefa is seen to be issuing minor fines of no significance to clubs that break FFP, the Group of 4 will go to court.
The grounds of the G4’s proposed action is that club owners have taken business decisions based on Uefa’s clear statements that it will be rigorous in introducing FFP, and if they don’t they will be guilty of having misled investors.
John W Henry, owner of Liverpool, has said that he bought Liverpool in 2010 on the basis that FFP would change the way football works and levels out the finances of clubs. He and others have been encouraged by the fact that the transfer dealings among top clubs had been in decline since the period of the initial run up to full FFP introduction.
Arsenal are in a similar position, with the club’s entire financial system based on the existence of FFP – a system which largely generates a profit for Arsenal. Meanwhile Man City are willing to lose around £100m a year at a time when FFP allows only a total of £38m loss over this season and last season.
The notion that Man City will make a profit of £62m this season in order to balance the loss is extremely unlikely, and so it looks as if Man City think they have found the loophole in the plans. All they have done so far is halved the insane losses of the previous year.
The notion that clubs are going to get around FFP and that Uefa will treat FFP avoidance as they treat racism, is given a boost by the fact that we have seen clubs counting the accounts in strange ways – such as with intellectual property rights sales being counted as income.
For Man C the centre of everything is Ethiad airlines which now spends hundreds of millions each year on promoting itself – and yet never once makes a profit.
Chelsea are doing the same, introducing £18m “exceptional share profit” into their accounts, as revealed on the www.financialfairplay.co.uk website.
The same oddities are showing up everywhere as PSG have put up a deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority as a source of income. Qatar is of course a prime destination for Parisians each summer. Or perhaps it is just the owner of PSG.
Nasser Al-Khelaifi knows that Uefa has to show that this deal is between two organisations that are related. If they can’t prove what we all know – the Qatar owns football clubs – or if the fine is measly then FFP is shot, and the G4 will be the first group to take renegade Uefa to court.
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