FFP the first punishments : will it change things in football?

By Walter Broeckx

If we can believe the media the first consequences of the FFP rules and first punishments will be put upon a few of the oiler teams.

The punishments as they are being spread in the media are for Manchester City to pay a fine of £50M and a squad limitation in the next Champions league. That squad limitation would be that they can only use 21 players in their CL matches and that 8 of them have to be locally-trained players or home grown as we usually call them.

I think PSG has been said to even have to pay a £60M fine and the same squad limitation and I even heard them mention that they would not be allowed to pay more wages and have transfer restrictions.

Now I must say that the first thing that went through my head when I heard of the fines was:

a) this is somewhat useless for these clubs as they have money to burn and so this is peanuts

b) now we see that FFP is just another reason to fill the bank accounts of Uefa.

For the point b) it maybe was just that UEFA wanted their piece of the cake? Maybe they just wanted to profit from the money that was poured in to it on club level and were just jealous and wanted some of that money? The thing that UEFA needs to make clear is how that money will be spend! The only way this money can and should be spend is by using it for grass roots projects.

This money should go to educating and learning kids to play football in the right way. It cannot be used to fill the bank accounts of UEFA or even worse….

But back to the punishments as they are leaked and to the consequences for the clubs like Manchester City and PSG.

The fines as I have been told are not to be paid in one payment. It is something they have to pay over 3 years.  At first sight one could shout: this is not right. Let them pay it in one sum. But I think there is a little trick in to this from Uefa their point of view. In the case they don’t pay that fine on time each time they could be excluded based on having unpaid debts to UEFA. I’m not 100% sure on this but I seem to remember that the worst crime for UEFA is a team that owes money to UEFA and doesn’t pay them on time.  But I hope that some experts could shed a bit more light on this and on the fact that I am right. Or wrong.

Of course the fines are peanuts for these clubs. But I have also heard that the fines will be in the next accounts for the next years. So it will give them an extra handicap to overcome the FFP rules for the next years. One could say that it will cost them one top class player each season.

Looking at it now it does seem that the oiler clubs will have to let players go in order to get in line with the FFP rules. How many they will have to let go is a bit unclear and depends on how much they pay their players.

So they will have to reduce their costs (wages of course) with the amount needed to get in line and the fines have added this and make it more difficult.

Another punishment and this might affect them even more is the fact that for European matches these teams will only be able to use 21 players of the usual 25 players squad.

And 8 of these players need to be home grown. As a result this will mean that some of their non-homegrown players and superstars will be excluded from playing in the CL. And that is something that might hurt the players more. Because apart from the money most of them want to play in the CL as that is what their status as top class players  requires.

In other words buying 25 top class players from all over the world will not be possible for those clubs. They must have 8 home grown players in their squad. So basically this could mean that they have to enter the local markets more and this will affect the transfer market of course. And as they are not able to pay top money any more because otherwise being more out of line with FFP rules they will have to enter the middle class players market.

For the moment the clubs have been informed and things have been leaked to the media. Now the clubs can accept the punishments or they can disagree with them and then it will be handed over to the  CFCB’s (UEFA’s club financial control board) adjudicatory panel.

This panel can still make the penalties bigger. I don’t know if they can reduce them to be honest. But after that it is only the civil courts where the decision can be challenged I think. Which they probably will do I guess.

So for the moment no exclusion of some teams from playing in Europe. Or no top teams yet. The smaller fish is another case of course. As it usually is.

But nevertheless, the FFP fines as they are mentioned will have an impact on the working of the oiler clubs.

Will it be enough to force them to change the way they operate and stop the inflation in wages and transfer sums?  The future will tell us this in the next years. One can but hope.

The books

43 Replies to “FFP the first punishments : will it change things in football?”

  1. Walter,

    If implemented, I believe that the squad limitation will work. As you rightly said, the players won’t want to be part of 25 man squads only to be left out of the 21 man CL squads. There will still be some developments but I hope UEFA can stand firm on the squad limitation penalty.

  2. The principle of punishment is that it should punish in the most effective way.
    A monetary fine is pointless.
    A squad limitation could punish in that it would weaken (but only weaken) the presence of the participating club.
    However, IMO, the most effective punishment would be to ban the guilty club from playing in the CL for x number of seasons. 😉

  3. Warning: the site seems to be slowing down for the moment.
    Behind the scenes all red lights are flashing once again and problems with working on articles.
    Damned just as I was writing on the new Bosman ruling that might change football in the future….

    Under attack again???? 🙁

  4. @Walter
    I have just had trouble accessing the site.. ‘Trouble establishing a database connection’ message or similar.
    Fingers crossed,seems OK now though.

  5. Well then, I’ll get this post in as fast as I can…

    Walter, I’d love for UEFA to dedicate a large part of those fines to grass-roots football. But what I’d really love to see is another large part dedicated to buying legal aid capable of going toe-to-toe with the oiler’s lawyers. The fear all along has been that the oilers could just pay their way out with good lawyers, but surely 50 or 60 million euro should be enough to prevent that from happening. If UEFA use that money carefully, they can ensure compliance for the long run by investing in the best legal counsel.

    Then they can fine lots of clubs and put that money towards grass roots.

  6. Mick,

    Yes, I’m afraid we are under attack again…
    The IT people from Tony his company are looking at things right now.

    I hope they can find a solution as the site is slow for the moment but the readers end is at least still working. Our end of the site is more problematic for the moment. And that is the part needed to publish articles…. sigh…

  7. I wonder what Man City’s new restrictions will do to Sagna’s reported desire to play with them. It would be great if they couldn’t offer him anything so he stayed with us!

  8. nicky,

    A ban would be perfect but come on, we all know that never going to happen. It will be litigated to death and may lead to some unforseen problems that may turn out to be worse than financial doping.

    I am okay with squad limitation, provided that it is properly applied and not watered down.

  9. Good article Walter and a nice update concerning the present penalties for City and PSG.

    I have also noticed the site slow and hard to access, someone must be really really pissed off with UA!

    The last cyber attack corresponded closely with a number of very obnoxious posters suddenly appearing & eventually being banned, this time the attack seems to arrived after a certain Mister X was noted on a previous thread. Coincidence?

  10. sadly a long post that I wrote has gone down the drain so I’ll just put the ideas into short sentences:

    1. Contrary to this article, I was thrilled about those punishments. Take into consideration – this is the first time punishment are being handed out according to the FFP. It is very common for sanctions to be extremly lenient when given for the first time (or even for the first time period).

    For example: try to remember seat belts – when they became mandatory – there was quite a long period when police did not give fines for not wearing seat belts, just warnings. So if these are the “grace period” punishments, if they are equal to “warnings” – which represent the very low level of sanction – I think that it means the when the normal standard will be enforced, the money-lords will find themselves in trouble.

    2. From what I understand the 50-60 mil will count as a loss, so even though it’s a drop in the bucket, it means that those clubs cannot allocate that amount in the next few years. It’s actually not so light when you think about it – you need to be in break even status, so 50 mil. counts for a lot (and it doesn’t matter if you can bring that money from home).

    3. The argument about UEFA getting richer isn’t valid, I’m sorry. It’s not a valid argument since it’s like saying that speeding fines aren’t ok because they make the MOT or the police richer…

  11. Like Bootoomee and TommieGun, I think the FFP punishments cannot just be brushed aside. It was never going to lead to expulsions. The key here is enforcement of these punishments. Having a 21 man squad with 8 of those needing to be homegrown, is not likely to be a good thing for City. Even if they buy the players to make up that squad well, they will have to face a premium since everyone will know their need, and make it harder for them to comply with the rules in the future. I think there is also a provision for harsher punishments for repeat offenders, meaning that if they don’t comply, they could face stricter punishments in the future.

    However, City and PSG will both contest the punishments I am sure, and they may well be further watered down.

    There is also the perception that they can somehow buy their way out of a mess. That might be true in some ways, but it’ll still force them to be creative in their efforts to pass through loopholes in the rules, so it can’t be said that FFP will have no effect. How much the effect, whether minimal or far-reaching, remains to be seen.

    ALl in all, I am hopeful at the moment that there will be some sort of a curb on irresponsible spending.

  12. Given the recent comments from Arsene Wenger on the FFP situation it will be interesting to see what he makes of the punishments, if of course he deems it appropriate to give his opinion.

  13. Shard

    You are right when you say that 8 have to be homegrown ( British if you like) but a little twist in that is 4 of the 8 have to have been with the club for 3 years between the age of 15 & 21

  14. Mike T

    I don’t think they have to British. Like Fabregas would still qualify as homegrown AND the other criteria you state. Which makes it even tougher in the immediate sense.. It does however, give the likes of Chelsea and City an advantage since they have been investing quite heavily in their academies, and that is exempt from the FFP calculation.

    It’s better than nothing, however I fear it would just mean that more and more talented youngsters are just hoovered up by the clubs with unlimited resources, in the same way that Chelsea have been hoarding talent at senior level the past few years. These youngsters will have very little shot at the first team, but will then be sold on at a premium to other clubs in need of homegrown talent. Essentially it just makes the clubs spend money on younger players.. A good time to get your children into football I think 🙂

  15. Sorry when I said British I didn’t mean the player I meant British club.

    Irrespective of Nationality 8 of your CL squad have to have been with a British Club for 3 years between the ages of 15 & 21 and 4 of those 8 players have to have been with the qualifying club for that period

    You are right about the possibility of clubs stock piling youth but FFP gives you these options and as I have said before targets (FFP) shape behaviours.

  16. AGreed Mike T. For that reason alone I don’t think we can dismiss the effects of FFP. There will be intended consequences and unintended consequences. We’ll just have to see how things develop.

  17. Lets see if UEFA really mean business when the appeals come up. Hope the kick the offenders in the nads and make them suffer .
    We must be doing something right if we are again under cyber attack ! GO UNTOLD !

  18. “Most people are good and occasionally do something they know is bad. Some people are bad and struggle every day to keep it under control. Others are corrupt to the core and don’t give a damn, as long as they don’t get caught. But evil is a completely different creature, Mac. Evil is bad that believes it’s good.”
    ― Karen Marie Moning, Shadowfever


  19. the ‘homegrown’ rule applies for all clubs in continental competition…not just those that are in breach of FFP.

    big clubs have always hoarded young players. not much will change in this respect. the introduction of the ‘homegrown’ rules already made clubs increase their hoarding of young talent from across the globe. im not sure FFP will have the same effect, as most clubs will try to streamline their transfer intake and wages in order to have the strongest possible first team.

    while each individual youth player might not cost much or have particularly high wages, when you have a u16s, u18s, u19s, u21 and a reserve squad that combined sum can actually end up being millions. so theres a chance that FFP might actually lead to less buying of young players and more focus on local talent which is far cheaper than spending 500k on a 17 year old from overseas that these days often have expensive add-ons if they turn out to be a star (which means possibly having less to spend in the future)
    i think with a limited budget most oil clubs will streamline their transfer systems in order to still bring in big names, they just wont be buying other ‘squad’ or ‘youth’ players i.e all 40 million of their budget will go to one star transfer.

    i think FFP will open the market up for middle budget teams as because people know the oil teams are on a budget and can only sign one or two top players the market will be less inflated. for instance i think arsenal will have far more top options in the years to come for players in the 10 to 30 million range that in recent years due to inflation have been 25 to 50 million.

  20. According to todays A Cultured Left Foot the fines “are excludable for FFP profit/loss calculations”, which makes sense when you think about it, as it might create a bit of a Catch 22 situation otherwise.

  21. Jax,
    I have heard otherwise but I am not sure about it to be honest.

  22. Jax and Walter

    Yes, no one seems to be sure about this. Which makes me a little less confident that it’ll go against the oilers. But we’ll just have to wait and see.. Does anyone know when the appeal process begins and ends?

  23. john L

    That is a reasonable assumption of the effect of FFP on most clubs I think, but not on clubs who have unlimited funds, like City, PSG, Chelsea etc..

    Spending on the academy does not count towards the FFP calculations.

    So it makes perfect sense for them to stockpile young talent in their countries, and then sell them to other clubs in desperate need of that talent, at a premium. This will have the effect of weakening rivals’ ability to spend and boosting their own income, which then allows them to sign the first team players they want.

  24. Shard
    Unless City challenges in the courts (and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do) then the UEFA appeal process finalises on Friday when they could get further sanctions.

  25. Shard
    Sorry, I put that badly. Should have said the appeal process finalise Friday, when further sanctions could be added, but City may still prolong it all with a legal challenge thought the courts in which case (as I understand it) any sanctions are suspended until court judgements are completed.

  26. Jax

    Thank you. I agree that City are very likely to take it to court, which wouldn’t be a bad thing in my opinion really. Let the test to FFP come early so that we know where we stand. Either it will be accepted by the courts, or UEFA will face serious embarrassment. Either way, by next season we should know what is expected of all clubs.

  27. @ shard,

    yeah i was speaking more of the clubs who take the ‘suger-daddy’ or ‘galatico’ approach…

    also my understanding was the FFP didnt count towards infrastructure on the academy. i.e if you were a rich owner you could build and fund a training complex. not that you could spend 15 million on a 18 year old and call that an academy expense.

    also, under ‘homegrown’ rules you dont have to register players under 21 who have been with the club for two or more years…i wonder if that has been taken into account with squad limitations?

  28. In other news, Hull’s Meyler will face no further punishment for a disgusting stamp on Januzaj yesterday. Wouldn’t want an Arsenal opponent to miss the FA Cup final now would we?

    I’m semi-kidding when I say that, but seriously, this idiocy has to stop. The referee says he saw it and decided to take no action and that’s supposed to be the end of that? It was a deliberate stamp (albeit with not much of a forceful impact) and it’s all okay because the referee pretends it didn’t happen. It’s disgusting is what it is and only shows up the FA and Premier League as not interested in having a clean game.

  29. @ shard,

    the other drawback of ‘hoarding’ young talented players is that they become disgruntled and their contracts either run down or they force their way out of the club which means they become available on the cheap to clubs like arsenal….so you are risking using limited funds on young players that you may potentially never recoup..

    so if it were to go they way your suggesting, there would still be alot of opportunity to sign cheap young talent, especially as clubs will have to watch their wages and as young players get older their wages generally go up…

  30. john L

    That’s a good point regarding infrastructure as opposed to spending on players. It’s been a while since I read the rules but my understanding was that the wage bills of the youth team don’t count towards the FFP calculations. Hopefully I am wrong about that. (Or at least I think I hope that 🙂 )

    As for the restrictions on the homegrown and as they apply to U21s. I think the U21 players don’t have to be registered, but if they aren’t, they don’t count towards the homegrown quota.

    All clubs can register a squad of up to 25, of which only 17 can be non-homegrown players. All U21 don’t have to be registered, but can be. If City are allowed to register only 21 players, that means they can have only 13 non-homegrown players in their registered squad. That is quite an effective deterrent I think.

  31. john L

    That makes sense as long as you are right about the restrictions on spending (even on the academy wage bill) If that doesn’t apply, I’m afraid I don’t agree with you.

  32. shard,

    in the premiership all u21 do not have to be registered.

    in europe u21 players that have been with the club for two or more years do not have to be registered. so if you were to buy an expensive 18 year old you would have to register him as a player until he was 20, when you would have one year where he is u21 and has been with the club for two years.

    if you cannot fill your ‘homegrown’ quota you have to leave a space in your squad i.e register 24 players leaving the 25 spot empty.

  33. shard,

    im a little unsure how that ‘academy’ clause works. but surely if you can say that u18 signings are academy expenses that kind of diminishes the whole point to FFP (not to say uefa would be beyond such a thing) but….

    a club could potentially buy a young 16 year old neymar, of which the transfer fee is counted as an academy expense, by the time he is 18 he has been with the club two years allowing his club to play him for three seasons in europe without haivng to consider his wages or transfer fee as an expense?

  34. @Bootoomee,
    Your 2.42pm.
    Don’t you think squad limitation will result in endless litigation as well?
    You don’t know these lawyers!

  35. Bootoomee/nicky

    I’m of the opinion there’s always a ‘loophole’ to be found somewhere, and more importantly that given enough money, there’s always a Lawyer to guide you through it.

  36. When you apply for a UEFA licence ( you need one to play in the EL & CL) under Article 43 you have to sign a legally binding document to the effect that you will accept, without going to law, all UEFA rulings and rules. You do have a right of appeal but only to CAS.
    There is a challenge, from an agent, to FFP that is going through the European courts, which will probably either see the end of FFP or see it being re written . However the outcome will not be soon enough for Man City.
    Of course there is a process that is in train in relation to Man City and the other clubs but I think it is Man City that are between a rock and a hard place in that they were confident that they were compliant. So confident that they appear to be refusing to accept the sanctions. I doubt UEFA will cave meaning Man City will have to accept or risk the next stage of the process which quite possibly will lead to them being excluded.
    I am not sure of the exact timings but I read yesterday that CAS have agreed to fast track any appeals in time for the CL& EL qualifiers. The court case is due to come to a conclusion in the summer but I suspect there will be appeals etc. Bear in mind it took 5 years from the commencement to the conclusion of proceedings in the Bosman case (1990-1995)
    Just a little thing that seems to be missed by many in that in FFP there are issues if your wage % exceeds 70%. And Man City do exceed that figure

  37. @John L

    Transfer fees paid in respect of players who are part of a clubs academy are not excluded .In other words they are treated the same as all other transfer fees

  38. nicky,

    Trust me, I know those lawyers 🙂

    I have no doubt that there will be litigations no matter what but the stiffer the punishment being meted, the more virulently the affected clubs’ lawyers would fight it. Look at capital punishment cases in America for example. It costs the government, on average, $308 million from arraignment to execution per case whereas life imprisonment without parole cases costs on average $30 million from arraignment and all through the entire life term of the convict.

    I think squad limitation is a good enough punishment to cause deterrent but one that may not be fought tooth and nail because it is not too extreme.

  39. We all talk about how litigation by the “big boys” is likely to result in escaping punishment for misdeeds under the FFP Regs.
    More properly, we should be pressing FIFA, EUFA and our own FA to put their houses in order and apply the rules of the game fully, fairly and without favour.
    Some hope, but we should still try…:)

  40. City have no leg to stand on,they have known about FFP for years and have had plenty of time to get their house in order like Chelsea have done but they obviously thought they could buy their way out of it. Did they really need to buy Negredo,Jovetic, Navas and Fernandinho last summer? At least PSG have been blatant about their spending and have accepted their punishment without whinging. I do think there should be some transparency over the punishments with clear published guidelines, as all the secrecy fosters suspicion that a certain amount of horse trading has been taking place. And spare me all the poor old City articles in the press.It is incredible that a journalist can write that high ticket prices are a bigger problem than Citys spending and not see the correlation between the two. I mean is everyone who hasn’t got a trillionaire owner supposed to just give up? Fans won’t allow it.Consequently clubs are forced to pay higher transfer fees and wages in an inflated market,and give their current players big payrises in order to keep them. How do clubs pay for this? One way is higher ticket prices. And as for the Etihad campus. Pah, easy to do when you get given a stadium which happens to be surrounded by acres of wasteland.Most clubs do things that benefit the community its just that these projects are not as “sexy”.

  41. Hey, hey to all of those who say “you don’t know these lawyers” – let us make a living, please 🙂

  42. The limit on the squad size (21 instead of 25) combined with the home grown constraints (4 club academy graduates + 4 country academy graduates) are going to hurt them a lot more than what the British media states.
    PSG has obviously more than four players who have been trained at the club, but with the exception of Rabiot, none of the others have seen action during this Champion’s league campaign. Same with Manchester City with only Micah Richard having played in a Champion’s league game.
    21-8=13 non British academy trained players. Looking at Wednesday Manchester City vs Aston Villa starting line up, only Hart and Milner would qualify as home grown. If the rumours that Pellegrini wants to exchange him for Lloris, and sell Milner are true that would means none from the first 11. Suddenly academy graduates are worth a lot more.
    That means that PSG and Manchester City will not be able to attract established stars with the promise of the Top European competition unless they sell another established player. Suddenly the swap Cavani versus Eden Hazard does not look so ridiculous anymore.
    Chelsea is stock piling youngsters but loan them outside of England (Vitess Arnhem, Spain, Germany) and loan time spent at outside countries is excluded from UEFA calculation. That’s why the mixed up with Ryo, we loaned him to Feyenord for a year, but that does not count toward the time spent when less than 21 with the club.

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