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April 2021

BBC programme confirms the view that Man C were unprepared for Uefa punishment

By Tony Attwood

Yesterday’s article on Manchester City’s issues with Uefa over FFP raised a fair amount of interest, and quite a few vitriolic responses too.

There was a lot of argument as to where the process had actually got to, following some comments (which I posted in the blog comment section early yesterday evening) from Gianni Infantino yesterday, as well as a number of claims that in contrast to my view that Man City were taken by surprise at the imposition of the fine, the club had a clear strategy.  Most commentators saw this as legal action against Uefa using EU law.

My intention was to respond just on the EU law point, but then two developments happened last night.

At 2050 BST last night the Guardian put up a new article in which they confirmed that if “no settlement is reached, the matter will be passed to the adjudicatory arm of Uefa’s independent club financial control board, which has the power to impose an even heavier sanction. But Uefa is believed to be confident that a settlement can be reached and insists the process is still on track.”

They also  said that, “The other eight clubs under consideration by the CFCB, including PSG, are believed to have all-but agreed settlements with Uefa,” and quoted Gianni Infantino’s comment that the process was on track.

None of the other major English based broadsheets seem to be running the story, (although I haven’t yet seen the Times) perhaps because prior to the publication of the Guardian’s piece, the BBC on its radio station “5 Live” ran a 20 minute discussion on the issue with Gabriele Marcotti,  who for me is by far and away the most informed and educated commentator on European football that we get to hear on radio and TV. 

Mr Marcotti, who is Italian, writes for such papers as the Wall Street Journal, the Times,  and numerous others, and is, in my view, always a voice to be listened to and his views at this point were very informative.

The programme from 8pm on 5 Live focussed on Man City’s apparent problem with Uefa and Gab Marcotti gave the clear view that Man City was taken totally by surprise by Uefa’s decision and believed utterly that they were going to be given the all clear.

He also made the point we considered yesterday, which the Guardian picked up on above, that the adjudicatory body is utterly independent of Uefa, and can impose any penalty it likes, or find in Man City’s favour.   And the issue of other clubs appealing was also raised.

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Also interesting on the programme was that the presenter invited texts and calls to the programme, but they hardly reported any of these, saying that clearly most people did not understand what FFP was about.  There was a particular mention of the large number of calls saying that FFP was ignoring all the good work that Man City had done in terms of regeneration – which I doubt that anyone denies, but which is not relevant within this context.

So, the issue of why the process is not yet resolved is itself still unresolved.  Gab Marcotti said he had no idea why there had been a delay, ignored the comment by Infantino and said he expected a resolution within a day or so.

And that leaves us with the possibility of a challenge by Man City to Uefa using EU law.

A number of correspondents yesterday suggested this would be straightforward since Uefa had clearly “broken EU law” but unfortunately it is nowhere near as simple as that for EU law has for a long time recognised that sport often needs its own protections which do not fall into the norm of EU law.

Indeed if Man City are going to the EU, we are going to be in for a very, very, very long journey – something that goes way beyond next season’s Champions League.

On this I think we have to start with the fact that Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia has already said that he is a supporter of FFP. But European Commission rules of course say that every complaint must be examined and it is  more than likely that it is this threat which has made Uefa’s general secretary Gianni Infantino say, “It is normal that in legal proceedings time has to be taken to analyse everything in detailed ways.  We are aiming at having a clear picture on what will happen before the start of the next competitions.”  But that again assumes no legal challenge.

Certainly the 9 May deadline to accept or appeal against the findings was a real deadline widely publicised and never denied by Uefa even though Infantino dismisses it now.  So something has gone wrong with the process.

But let’s assume that Man City is not, as I suggested, doing nothing, but is instead plotting an appeal against the FFP regulations under Article 101 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU states.

The argument would be that by penalising Man City, Uefa has given a competitive advantage to other clubs and that through it clubs can become fixtures in the Champs League and that only through large inputs of cash can outsiders break in.

The counter arguments have also been heard before.  First it has been established before that sporting activities by their very nature are different from everyday commerce.  Sometimes that argument holds sway, sometimes (Bosman springs to mind) it doesn’t.   Second it will be argued that the market is so big and football so variable that it is pure skill and enterprise that establishes clubs at the top.  Certainly Arsenal got there by having a tiny stadium but a brilliant manager, and by bringing through young players without going into debt.

Man City could also argue FFP restricts competition and is not helpful to consumers.  But it has been established in the EU rulings on sport that fans are not always seen as consumers in the normal sense.  I might buy a Dyson or a Hoover to clean my house, changing from one to another because of an advert that impresses me.  But I don’t change from Arsenal to Tottenham or Man C in the same way.  The “fans are not consumers” argument is a powerful one in this context.

But overall the EU’s support already expressed for FFP by Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia stems from the view that FFP rewards good financial practice rather than mass borrowing and huge debts, club collapses etc.  That in itself is a powerful argument.

Man C also seem to fall foul of state aid rules (article 102) under which the seven Spanish clubs (including Real Madrid with its infamous land deal with the local council) have been charged and so could find themselves open to a counterclaim of getting state aid from their owners which is beyond the value of the product being sold.  (Arsenal of course get state aid from the state owned Emirates airline, but have been shown to be gaining it on a clear commercial footing.  The argument is the Man City get specially enhanced prices because of the close connection between themselves and their sponsor – the owner).

But Joaquín Almunia leaves his job in November, and if the Man C complaint really has gone to the EU under articles 101 and/or 102 it will take way beyond November for it to be heard – which will give Uefa another problem.   Do they play next season’s competition under their findings, or the rules Man C would like?   Besides if Uefa were to lose the initial case against Man C, the case would probably go to the European Court of Justice and the result would be expected in around 2019.   (That date is a serious expectation from a legal colleague, not a flippant remark).

If Man C are not going down the legal route their only other recourse is the one Uefa gave them when it asked for a decision by last monday: referral to the Financial Control Body, which  looks at the matter again from the start.

The FCB has already heard a complaint from  Jean-Louis Dupont to the effect that FFP harms football agents.  I think we are still waiting for the result on that one, unless Dupont withdrew (I couldn’t find anyone overnight who knew).

But I do know that the general rule adopted by the courts is that in order to be outside of Article 101 any rule imposed by a sports body must be there to ensure the proper conduct of competitive sport.  Certainly there is an argument that FFP, by stopping a state ploughing money into a club to ensure it wins most things most of the time, is doing just that.  Of course since I am not a judge I can’t say that is how it would turn out, but it is an arguable case.  Hence the thought that the resolution through the courts will take to the end of the decade.

We also have the “specificity of sport” ruling through which case law in the European courts and decisions of the European Commission show that the specificity of sport has been recognised and taken into account. The ruling also provides guidance on how EU law applies to sport. In line with established case law, the specificity of sport will continue to be recognised, but it cannot be construed so as to justify a general exemption from the application of EU law.  So yes, Uefa can’t just take it that they can do anything they like, because it is sport.  But also yes, they can argue that because it is sport, the general rulings don’t always apply.

In summary no one I have spoken to or listened to seems to know what the hell is going on now, and everyone seems to have been taken by surprise by the non-resolution of the Man City issue.   And basically if Gab Marcotti doesn’t know, I guess no one does.

If you can find last night’s Five Live programme at 2000 BST recorded somewhere do listen to that 20 minute slot.  It is revealing, and I must say that after the comments yesterday it was rather nice to have someone confirm that we were on the right lines.

One final PS.  Among the comments last night there were a number saying that my arguments were invalid as I gave no sources.  Two things in answer to that.  First, this is a blog not an official publication – you don’t have to read it if you don’t like it, and you can treat it as the irrelevant ramblings of a half a dozen guys.  That’s fine.  Second, no journalist gives his sources when reporting inside information – otherwise the sources go away.  This is where the phrase “My understanding is…” comes from.  What I can tell you is that at this moment no one is going on the record concerning Man City, Uefa and FFP.

The books

125 comments to BBC programme confirms the view that Man C were unprepared for Uefa punishment

  • blacksheep63

    thanks for this Tony, I listened and was quite astounded at how pro-City the beeb were. I know their HG is now in Manchester but honestly! What I did pick up was that entrance to the CL is technically by invitation; there is is no RIGHT of entry. So UEFA can make up the rules as they go along and exclude Citeh (and others) if they don’t meet their requirements. For the record I texted in twice but neither were acknowledged and I heard only the view of 3 City fans, one who took the opportunity to have a pop at ‘rich Arsenal fans’ who price City fans out of the Emirates. yes, I know :/

  • blacksheep63

    HQ even !

  • accuracy matters

    Re state aid. I wasn’t aware that the UAE had acceded to the EU, or is this a well guarded secret only known in North London.

  • Ronan Lee

    More speculation based on media speculation. In other words, pure nonsense.

  • nicky

    @Blacksheep 63,
    He probably meant High Ground….that moral position the Beeb likes to take on all matters involving pomposity 🙂

  • M18CTID

    Tony, while I fully accept that we don’t have to read your blogs that in itself is not an excuse for the ill-informed article you penned yesterday. You clearly stated as fact that, among other things, City were ignoring UEFA when, like the rest of us, you didn’t have a clue what was going on.

    This is a more balanced article but I would’ve expected a full retraction of what you said yesterday. Opinion pieces are one thing but making things up as you go along just to suit your captive audience is something altogether different.

    I will give you some credit in that you do allow opposition fans to have our say even if it doesn’t square with your opinion which isn’t the case with some other sites.

  • Ron Weasley

    The fundamental point in your previous article Tony was that City have snubbed UEFA and are not engaging in any process to reach settlement.

    This wild speculation on your part can now – less than 24 hours later – be seen to be entirely wrong.

    Perhaps an appropriate start to today’s article might have been an apology from you for misleading so many readers with your false information. But I see no hint of apology anywere in your post.

    Given you got yesterdays stuff so wildly wrong, why would readers take today’s fluff any more seriously? Agenda? Much?

  • TommieGun

    Thanks again for very interesting information regarding this issue.

    I have a soft spot for competition law and it’s actually one of the (few) academic legal things that interest me.

    I can clearly understand the contention that would be raised by Man City: it is unfair to impose an arbitrary rule that limits clubs’ spending “from this day forth”, since such rule did not exist before. Hence, clubs that did not have the opportunity to spend “before” are being discriminated against, and it can be argued that the FFP is in fact a mechanism to keep “the old forces” in power.

    I have to say, that it makes quite a compelling argument.

    However, opening the debate to competition based contentions might actually back-fire.

    As you probably all know, the most competitive sports leagues are in the US of A. There is no “BIG 4” in the NBA. The LA Lakers who were the best only a few years ago, didn’t make it to the playoffs. Jordan’s Chichago Bulls who reigned supreme had 15 years of shit until Rose came along. So yeah you have clubs with tradition like the Celtics and the Lakers but it doesn’t really make that much of a difference. Look who’s doing great now – OKLAHOMA! It would be as suddenly Leyton Orient would finish second… (he he he). Same goes in Football – you have a few teams with tradition like Dallas and Pittsburgh but that’s that. Same goes for baseball and hockey (which I know dick about so I’m not writing about it).

    My point is that in all american sports there are huge limitations on competition – whether it’s salary caps, structured salaries for rookies, limitations on trades, and so forth. Those limitations are actually what keeps those leagues so competitive – no one can achieve total dominance, not by the force of money BUT more importantly not by force of popularity and reputation, since the draft system ensures that the WEAKEST clubs will get the best (potential) picks.

    And finally I’m getting to my point: salary cap in the NBA only started in 1985, which means that the dominant clubs prior to that enjoyed a relative advantage for a few years, over (potential) clubs that could have injected a lot of money. But that was just for a few years, afterwards equality was enforced through the salary cap limitations.

    And this should be the reply to Man City contention – yes, for the first few years you are relatively fucked compared to Barca, Real, Bayern, and KGB – but in the long run FFP is important and beneficial towards everyone.

    In addition, and as a side comment, I am totally unaware of EU ability to overrule and independent body such as UEFA. UEFA is not a business body. It is more like the UN in that sense. Can EU overrule UN decisions? I am not sure and if anyone has any knowledge about it, I would be happy to get so info.

  • TommieGun

    @ Ron and Mcity – could very much be that Tony was not wrong at all, that in fact City ignored UEFA, but from my experience, in many cases where you believe that you can reach a compromise, which is clearly what everyone is after – it is ill advised to yell and point fingers. So even if City deliberatly ignored UEFA, or let’s say innocusly missed the deadline – it does not mean that UEFA should automatically call them out. It puts UEFA in a very limited position, from which it would not be able to go back into negotiations.

  • Ronan Lee


    Tony stated as fact yesterday that City ignored UEFA, he has absolutely no evidence of this.

  • TommieGun

    @ Ronan – there was a deadline. It was May 9th. City did not respond, did not ask for some time extension, did not ask for stay of execution. They did not respond. In my book it’s called IGNORING. Now we can argue about whether it was a deliberate action, taken by surprise, Man City’s legal advisors advised them not to reply, or whatever. But the fact remains that the deadline was missed.

    * note to self – legal advisors of football clubs in england are amazing. If Man City pull this off, then it’s even better than Liverpool not honoring a contractual obligation and then going on bragging about it.

  • M18CTID


    Where’s your evidence that there was a deadline, City didn’t meet it, and we ignored UEFA? Quite simply put, there is no evidence whatsoever – unless you believe everything you read in the papers of course. For all you and I know, City could well have been in dialogue with UEFA throughout this whole process.

  • Ronan Lee

    Like M18CTID says Tommie, where is the evidence to back up these claims?

  • Kevin

    Hold on “Arsenal got there with brilliant manager” According to Tony Adams Arsenal only got there due to the investment of Danny Fizsman?

  • M18CTID


    No no no! Fiszman and Norris are a figment of the imagination and their investment in Arsenal has been conveniently airbrushed by some (though not all) on this site.

  • bjtgooner

    Did Fizman & Norris have to comply with FFP? If so did they have a number of years warning to do so?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Since when was Tony Adams the man doing the accounts at Arsenal? 🙂 He has done a lot for Arsenal but I really don’t think he was doing that also.

  • TommieGun

    And how does it matter whether and if Arsenal spent 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pounds when it was LEGAL to do so – whereby now it is forbidden (or at least, it entails sanctions)?

    What a BULLSHIT argument.

    I hope Man City’s arguments in CAS will be a better, for their sake.

  • TommieGun

    Besides it seems to me most Man City’s fans are trying to divert the conversation from the essential matters: DOES Man City comply with FFP regulations; if it DOESN’T, are there any mitigating circumstances that need to be considered; IF Man City does not accept the agreed/negotiated punishment – what will be the next step?

  • Shakabula Gooner


    Thanks for your legal insight.
    Suppose Man City’s agenda is to tie the matter in the courts till 2019 and beyond whilst the status quo prevails? Eventually, an out-of-court settlement, in 2020 or beyond, is then proposed. Looks to me like a feasible legal gambit for an owner with their deep pockets…
    Is this as feasible as it seems? What is the down side of the gambit?

    Ronan/M18CTID: The beauty of this blog is the deeper insight it encourages over every football matter. I bet they never claim to be accurate all the time nor are they above putting out information in a way that generates maximum reflection and counterpoint. Credit to them that they are ahead of the regular news outlets on this matter and for this update within 24hours. We shall be happy to have your takes and perspectives with all we know now and at this time. Thanks.

  • M18CTID


    1) No-one on here knows whether City have failed FFP yet
    2) Some Arsenal fans were slagging off City’s spending long before FFP came in so the point is irrelevant anyway. Fiszman and Norris were brought into the argument to highlight the hypocrisy of some Arsenal fans who like to peddle the blatant lie that you’ve always been self-sufficient.
    3) Good luck in the FA Cup Final on Saturday

  • WalterBroeckx

    Surely never ever in the history of City before there has been one person who has given money to City…. 😉 till the sheik came along 😉

  • M18CTID


    Ahead of regular news outlets? Are you having a giraffe mate? I seem to remember that it was me that posted Infantino’s comments yesterday afternoon before anyone else did. Even then, I wasn’t ahead of regular news outlets – I just lifted it off Swanson’s Twitter lol.

  • Will Rickson

    How dare you even suggest that Etihad deal is dodgy

  • bjtgooner


    1. That point was answered on the earlier thread last night.

    2. Frizman & Norris – you guys introduced these names to the argument before you thought through just how irrelevant that argument is – poor attempt at a cover up.

  • M18CTID

    Of course there has Walter but the difference is, we don’t try to deny it. Face it Walter, by criticising City spending the money invested by a rich man you’re nothing more than a hypocrite because your club has done exactly the same in the past. But hey ho, if it makes you feel better by all means continue.

  • Will Rickson

    City have been in consistent contact with EUFA why would they suddenly not be. And if they where they would not be able to fight there corner and as such would already have been punished. I note that the process is not over for several clubs so that again suggest that the deadline has either moved or not been reached in which case you cannot say they have not meant the deadline

  • Will Rickson

    City have been very prepared for this situation just did not think it would happen because they where so prepared for FFP they did not think it could happen so your title is misleading and insulting

  • M18CTID


    I brought Fiszman and Norris into it to highlight Walter’s blatant hypocrisy. Is that clear mate?

  • Ronan Lee

    Shakabula, what on earth are you talking about? Tony is speculating based on media speculation with no evidence to back up his claims.

  • bjtgooner


    That is very far from clear. You were winding yourself up, tried to be clever and brought in Frizman & Norris to try to equate to the sheik. Because you were wound up you did not think your point through, subsequently you are blustering to try to save face. Frizman & Norris are irrelevant to the argument because they did not have to contend with FFP.

    The argument is not whether or not a club has or should have a benefactor – but whether or not City are compliant with FFP.

    Show me where Walter has denied that Arsenal received help from benefactors – or else apologize for (wrongly) calling him a hypocrite.

    NB If you had followed UA over a longer period of time you would have read a number of articles on our benefactors.

  • Shard

    Arsenal were never owned outright by a single individual. Fiszman may or may not have put in 50m pounds. As of now, the only evidence of this that I have been able to find, is Tony Adams’ tribute to him.

    Let’s say he did. I’m sure there’s a legal and moral difference somewhere to do with percentage of ownership, but forget that too. Let’s say Arsenal got an outside investor to fund their growth. What is the argument here? That funding from outside isn’t wrong?

    Ok. I accept it isn’t wrong. But why has FFP come up now and didn’t in 92-93 or whenever the hell it is Fiszman is supposed to have put in that money? Is it because Arsenal are loved. ManU are loved. And City are hated? That is a ridiculous argument and which has repeatedly been made (in various forms) by City supporters on this site. The sense of being unfairly treated.

    Why the FFP has come up now, and not earlier, is because there was never a need felt for it earlier. The European leagues weren’t as interconnected I guess, with player transfers between leagues being relatively rarer. Prices and wages did not shoot up exponentially and certainly not at the same rate. (Bosman was probably the single biggest factor in raising wages) One club certainly never had the financial clout to distort the market to the extent they can, and do, now. In those terms, the FFP is not anti-competitive, it is anti-monopoly.

    Whether it works out that way or not is anyone’s guess, but for City fans to bemoan it as unfair, even as they try to justify their club winning a lottery as somehow fair and good for the game is just ridiculous.

  • TommieGun

    @ Whoever you might be,

    In the past it was legal to hold slaves, to hit your children, and to prevent women from voting.
    It was also illegal to be gay, or to consume alcohol (in the prohibtion era).
    My point is, LAW is something that reflects us, as a society. So in the past it was OK for Fiszman to spend endless amounts of money. Now it’s not ok. You wanna cry over it? Tough shit.

    I had enough intellectual honesty to display both sides of the “competition” argument above. You can read that. My point is not the moral of spending vs. not spending, but rather that there was a law, it was published 3-4 years ago, together with the possible sanctions. Plain and simple. The correct way to attack that law, if Man City thought it was unjustified, was to do that immediately after it was published, since (if that’s what you meant) the morality and justficiations for that law have not changed in the past 3 years. On the contrary: the fact that only NOW, when posed with sanctions, do people try to attack the morality of FFP – shows how artificial that attack is.

    I agree that if Man City qualified FFP regulations than all this debate is sterile.

    @ Shakabula – unlikely in my opinion. A stay of execution is usually not given when there are other parties which might be injured (and in our case, Everton and other clubs who would benefit from Man City’s exclusion from competitions and other FFP-breaking clubs that agreed to their punishment). The other alternative makes more sense – Man City will be excluded until the case is determined.

  • champions14

    From the blog:

    “But overall the EU’s support already expressed for FFP by Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia stems from the view that FFP rewards good financial practice rather than mass borrowing and huge debts, club collapses etc. That in itself is a powerful argument.”

    In which case Senor Almunia has no problem with Manchester City, does he?
    No borrowing, no debts, no chance of collapse. In fact, massive investment in the club and its infrastructure, not to mention a huge boost to the local area and economy.
    Mind you, I could think of one club, almost in Manchester, who would satisfy 2 of those criteria.
    Let’s be honest, we all know what FFP is about. It’s the same greedy clubs who threatened a breakaway European League, because they wanted even more money than they were already getting in the first place, who didn’t want their comfortable little cartel being upset. The English members of this cartel were the same ones who were at the forefront of pushing for home teams keeping all their gate receipts back in the 80’s. So much for their concerns about fair play. Their concerns are, and always have been, about themselves.
    If UEFA did something about the two Spanish clubs, whose financial chicanery has been far worse than MCFC’s, then I might take them seriously.

  • M18CTID


    Walter is clearly a hypocrite. He slates City for relying on the investment of a rich owner to help grow the club while conveniently forgetting that Arsenal have benefitted from a similar model in the past. If you can’t see that that makes him a hypocrite then fair enough – it all just seems a bit rich (pardon the pun) to me so no way am I ever going to apologise for it.

  • Ronan Lee


    The reason FFP was proposed in the first place was to tackle the debt in European football.

  • Shard

    Niall Quinn is wrong. Uefa are not punishing the regeneration around the ground and community. Infrastructure spending is excluded from FFP calculations.

    They are stopping clubs from going under too with the limits on losses. Debt might have been one of the original talking points, and I recall Platini saying ‘debt is debt’ earlier as well. But debt is harder to define. Should Arsenal be punished for talking out a loan to build their own stadium while City (or Lille, or certain German clubs) essentially get their stadium for free, and hence don’t need debt? So while ManU’s debt is harmful to the club, how do you specifically define a certain kind of debt? It’s more complicated than just saying, oh ManU and the rest of the big club ran a cartel and don’t want anyone else in. Yes, that is true (to an extent).

    Like I said, FFP isn’t perfect. But a corollary of stopping losses, and massive unregulated spending, could also be that clubs feel less inclined to take on more risky debt. In a way, it offers a solution to the original problem. Does it offer a more responsible alternative to just hoping for a billionaire (which is where the Portsmouth debt came from as well, false promises from billionaires led to them going under)? Yes.

  • nicky

    @M18 etc,
    If you have the temerity to compare the investment of Messrs Kroenke and Usmanov at Arsenal (only one of them on the Board and not even Chairman) and the Sheikdom at Man City, then you cannot be surprised if your comments are not taken seriously.

  • Ronan Lee

    City didn’t get their stadium for free, they are currently leading the stadium from Manchester City Council.

  • Ronan Lee


  • Shard

    What is ‘debt’ anyway? It’s a legitimate business practice, which can actually help a business grow. Which is why businesses approach banks after all. Debt is not necessarily an evil thing which destroys you.

    Now, losses. No business likes losses. (unless they use it as a black hole for taxes, but that is a different story) Accruing debt is essentially a cash infusion which can allow you to dig your way out of making losses. The only difference is, that you have to pay it back eventually.

    What the owners of City have done is that you don’t need to pay back that money that was injected into your business. Banning debt entirely would mean that no other club could ever turn around a bad business cycle through normal means. They would have to turn to a billionaire, who may or may not have their best interests at heart anyway (plenty examples of that), and besides, it’s not something which is necessarily good for the sport either. So no, banning debt is not the answer either. And I can see how limiting losses is a decent solution to force clubs to be run like businesses.

    Actually I hadn’t thought of that before. So, I think, after this discussion, I am more in favour of FFP than I was earlier.. (I am still open to debate of course)

  • Shard


    That’s why I used the word ESSENTIALLY, and said they required no debt.

  • WalterBroeckx


    could you remember me when Arsenal bought all the superstars in the world with the Fiszman money because I must have missed that along the way.

    That money might have been used for paying the renovation of the old Highbury in the 90ties? Did you ever consider this possibility? After all wouldn’t be that a strange idea as Fiszman was one of the people charged with the building project.

  • M18CTID

    Shard, you and I have had discussions on this in the past and while we didn’t totally agree we did have some understanding of each other’s views plus you had the decency to admit that self-interest was a driver for some clubs in wanting FFP so I’m not going to go over old ground with you.

    However, one point I’d like to raise is that City fans have a right to be suspicious about the timing of FFP being brought in. When the discussions first took place, it was more about addressing debt rather than investment but at some point it took another direction. If you’re admitting that self-interest plays a part then surely you’re admitting that the old G14 clubs have had a hand in getting this through – it would be naïve for anyone to think that they’ve not had a significant say in all this. I will add that I don’t think it’s necessarily to stop City specifically, more a case of preventing another club breaking through in the same way.

    I’m not totally against the concept of FFP – I just feel that the break-even part of FFP isn’t particularly fair. It doesn’t address differing tax rates in different countries and the allowable losses of around £37m over 3 years are too low, especially when you consider that a club can earn almost that much by just getting to the CL group stages in a single season – how can anyone else hope to realistically catch up. A more even spread of CL prize money should’ve been considered IMO.

  • Ronan Lee

    They’re not essentially getting it for free Shard, look up the terms of the lease agreement. Also while you’re at it you may take the time to read up on Sheikh Mansour and his stated aims for MCFC, how his intention from day one was to make the club self sustainable. You seem to have fallen into the trap of tarring all billionaire owners with the one brush instead of doing any research into any of them specifically.

  • Shard


    True enough. I would need more research to determine what happened there. Pity the Internet wasn’t around then. I have been unable to find anything on it.

    Also, that was the era when the Premier League was introduced and began to grow. It wouldn’t surprise me if the contracts began to improve because the income began to grow through the PL, and that the Fiszman money might have been invested in the bonds or wherever. Adams is hardly the most reliable source to know what happened, and I think he was essentially speaking as a tribute to Fiszman and his contribution to Arsenal rather than in an intellectual/historical capacity anyway.

    In any case, interesting as that is, it has no relation to the debate on FFP and its merits.

  • Shard

    Ronan Lee

    Talk is cheap. And don’t get caught up in the semantics. The point was that City and other clubs have had no need to acquire debt for their stadium, which doesn’t mean that Arsenal have done anything wrong.

    Read my subsequent post on debt and why I think Uefa got it right by limiting losses, even though I admit the nature of ManU’s debt and LBO (for example) is hardly ideal. But what do you expect Uefa to do about that? Make LBOs illegal? Not in their hands.

  • M18CTID

    Shard, it’s all well and good UEFA saying they want to stop clubs going under but consider this – Pompey would’ve still been in trouble if FFP had existed back when their problems arose. Their aggregate losses in the previous 3 seasons fell within the current allowable losses for FFP. Similarly, City were seemingly days from going into administration before the ADUG takeover but our losses for the previous 3 seasons also met FFP.

    Simply put, FFP doesn’t guard against unscrupulous owners and clubs will still be at risk.

  • Shard


    Of course I agree that self interest motivates everyone. But I differ with you in making that my sole point of contention. G-14 were obviously influential in getting the FFP shaped and passed. That doesn’t make it inherently bad, or any opposition to it inherently good.

    On merit, especially after the discussion on debt, I am more in favour of FFP for what it seemingly is forcing clubs to do. And that is act more like legitimate businesses. Debt and cash infusions are both essentially the same thing. When debt gets out of hand, it can force a club to go under. When cash infusions get out of hand it can a) distort the market, and b)force the club to become utterly reliant on them, in the absence of which they fail. Whether or not City are at risk is irrelevant.

    How the FFP works, is still to be seen. So I don’t get the outrage over it already. I remain sceptical that Uefa will enforce it with any fairness, but am willing to wait and watch.

  • Shard


    Inflation has taken place since then too, so I don’t think you can simply equate the values and say they would have been unaffected by FFP.

    Nothing will absolutely guard against stupidity and/or willful wrongdoing. Why do you expect that? It does however set out guidelines and rules for clubs to follow if they wish to compete with other clubs in Europe. It is not for Uefa to protect each and every club in ever league. You have the domestic associations who are supposed to do that. Uefa can just preclude/reduce irresponsibility in their domain.

  • M18CTID

    Walter, Adams credits Fiszman’s investmemt as happening in the mid-1990’s. By that time, much of the major redevelopment at Highbury had been completed. The North Bank went all-seater in 1993 and the Clock End around the same time. I remember this well because I was stood up in the corner of the Clock End for our game there in September 1992 but was seated the following season. At the same time (September 1992) the North Bank was under redevelopment because they had that mural covering most of the work.

  • TommieGun

    @ Ronan –

    a bit more reliable than niall quinn on a facebook thread:

    UEFA’s Executive Committee unanimously approved a financial fair play concept for the game’s well-being in September 2009. The concept has also been supported by the entire football family, with its principal objectives being:

    • to introduce more discipline and rationality in club football finances

    • to decrease pressure on salaries and transfer fees and limit inflationary effect

    • to encourage clubs to compete with(in) their revenues

    • to encourage long-term investments in the youth sector and infrastructure

    • to protect the long-term viability of European club football

    • to ensure clubs settle their liabilities on a timely basis

  • M18CTID


    I’m not saying that self-interest has been the sole driver mate, just that it has had some influence of the shape that these rules have taken – Platini has even admitted as such, going on record as saying that the likes of Moratti, Berlusconi, and Abramovich had had enough of investing their own money (which roughly translates as “I don’t like the fact that someone else has come along that can spend more than us” ;)) Having said that, FFP covers other things that we hardly ever get to hear about such as clubs paying fees to other clubs on time so it’s not all bad IMO.

    I fully accept that by accepting an invitation to play in European competition, City has to comply with the rules and I’ve no doubt that’s what we’ve been endeavouring to do. If we’re deemed to have failed this time around that doesn’t automatically mean we’ve shown a blatant disregard for them. UEFA have gone on record as saying first-time offenders won’t face the most draconian punishments as long as they can demonstrate their figures are moving in the right directon.

  • Shard

    “think that a significant factor, 90 per cent, in why we achieved so much is that Danny Fiszman invested £50m in the club and we were able to go to the next level.
    “I got my first decent contract at the club, so did David Seaman, we were able to bring in Dennis Bergkamp – and that was before Arsène arrived – David Platt, Patrick Vieira, Nicolas Anelka, and were able to pay them – top players from around the world”.

    That is what Adams said. As I said before, he was most likely saying this to pay tribute to Danny Fiszman rather than as a purely historical point.

    Secondly, it remains unclear whether he is talking about Fiszman buying shares into the club, investing in the North bank bonds (which would free up Arsenal to spend more) and certainly does not really say a specific year except saying that this happened before the Wenger era, with Bergkamp the only player mentioned who was brought in prior to that. We don’t even know if Fiszman is supposed to have spent 50m in one go, or cumulatively. It’s all a bit sketchy and I don;t think it can be taken entirely at face value.

    I would be very interested to know the real facts of this. It seems any narrative contrary to Arsenal gets established very quickly as indisputable fact. It’s possible that Fiszman did put in 50m into Arsenal to buy players and pay salaries. It’s also possible that he didn’t. I wouldn’t rate this as strong evidence either way.

    I’m just interested in this M18.. This has no bearing on FFP. Just want to make that clear.

  • Shard


    I have never believed City or any club would be thrown out of the CL. They might if they keep failing year on year though.

    I think we are in general agreement about City specifically. They might well make the cut next year if not this. I think that is a good thing for not just City, but all of football if unrestrained spending is being reduced before the price bubble bursts.

    It still remains to be seen how FFP works out. How it is enforced. What unforseen outcomes stem from it etc. But in my view, it is a decent beginning, it does right to not punish debt – since most debt isn’t harmful or contrary to a club’s interests, and the punishments meted out to CIty (reportedly) are good and strong punishments (this is where we’ll disagree I suppose) In fact I think they will be reduced slightly as a compromise. (for example, I think City will argue for a similar reduction in homegrown quotas if they accept the 21 man squad, seeing as only Joe Hart and Richards in your current first team meet the academy quota)

  • Ronan Lee


    Do you honestly believe you’re showing me something new there? The reason I posted the link to Quinn’s take on the matter is because he can offer genuine insight being that he was at the meeting with UEFA and PL chairmen when the stated aims were mooted. What Quinn is essentially saying there is that the goalposts have shifted, no doubt in my mind this happened because the G-14 put pressure on to ensure their protection.

  • Accuracy – the issue of state aid is interesting, in that while there seems to be little within anti-competition legislation that relates to state aid beyond the EU and associated countries such as Switzerland and Norway, there is, I believe, considerable concern about the possibility of state aid distorting markets. You just have to look at the discussions that the EU has had with China to see the concerns there are about products being falsely priced because of state aid from without the EU. It used to be called “dumping”

  • Ronan Lee

    Joe Hart doesn’t meet the academy quota Shard. You seem to know very little about Manchester City yet you feel you have the right to pontificate how they run their business.

  • M18CTID


    “It seems any narrative contrary to Arsenal gets established very quickly as indisputable fact.”

    Try being a City fan mate 😉

    You are right that there is no clear evidence that Fiszman invested £50 million for transfers and salaries but Adams’ testimony appears to indicate that some money was invested plus it was around that time that Arsenal’s transfer spending did spike.

    I agree that we’ll have to wait and see how FFP pans out. Despite all the supposed leaks, we’re no further forward in knowing just what punishments will be meted out.

  • M18CTID


    That’s the way I read what Quinn was saying too. He clearly refers to a change of direction over time.

    As you say, Tommie’s post doesn’t tell us anything new. I’d be interested to know just which of those 6 bullet points he feels City may not be attempting to adhere to though. Personally, I think we’ve taken it all on board and are making a concerted effort to comply.

  • Shard

    Ronan Lee

    Does Quinn offer any insights either? He is clearly wrong when he mentions the area redevelopment, since FFP does not prevent that. He mentions the club have no debt but he doesn’t mention issues with seeing debt as a measuring yardstick. Just because someone agrees with or reinforces your viewpoint doesn’t make him insightful and everyone else motivated and malicious.

  • Ronan Lee

    The point I was making with posting that link is that the goalposts have been moved Shard, the reason I did this is because you seem to be of the impression that FFP was introduced to stop a battle of the wallets, it wasn’t, it was mooted because of spiralling debt. Quinn offers insight because he was present at the meeting not because he reinforces my point.

  • Shard

    Just to clarify, obviously self interest guides people (and corporations) But changes always take place after discussions on a new concept. Which is why you have discussions in the first place. Just because debt was removed from the final draft does not instantly make it a malicious development. There are legitimate problems with making debt a yardstick for FFP.

    So yes, I agree that the G-14 will look out for their interests. I don’t agree that debt not being there is somehow proof of wrongdoing by them.

    I also agree with M18 that City are not going to ride roughshod over this. They won;t be allowed to for one. And secondly, I don;t think they want to. But unless Uefa play hardball, they and other clubs, will push the boundaries and look for loopholes. Which should subsequently be plugged. This is also normal for a new piece of legislation.

  • TommieGun

    @ Ronan & M18city –

    First, both of you are full of shit. Ronan, you are more full of shit, but M18ctid you are also quite full of shit.

    Now that we put the shit factor thing behind us, let’s move on.

    1. Ronan posted Niall Quinn who is no authority whatsever in law and/or the FFP, in order to prove a point [mind you it’s the same Ronan who asked for hard evidence earlier today.] So in my opinion I might be more qualified to comment on this issue than Mr. Quinn. You don’t have to agree but I think Mr. Quinn’s opinion is not very relevant.

    2. As a result, I posted the “6 bullets” which were copied and pasted out of UEFA’s website, as the reasons behind FFP. These are the official reasons, and not Mr. Quinn’s opinion (which convenietly goes in line with the interest of Man City but that’s another story).

    3. All of the above has only very little relevance in any event. You have to differentiate between 2 things: a law (or an act, or a rule, or a regulation) and the reasons and rationals behind the law. FFP regulations are a law. The reasons behind those regulations can be many things, but are only relevant and will only come into effect when the law in itself is obscure and in need of interpretation. However, whenever the law is clear – you must confine yourself to the strict letter of the law and not seek any external sources for interpretation. As far as I know, FFP criteria is very, very clear. Therefore I believe that it is not very complicated to see whether a club indeed failed to meet the criteria. The things which were left unclear and ambigous (unfortunately) were the sanctions, and in that sense I was surprised (as written in one of the previous posts here in UA) that the “settlement” punishments were so harsh, for a first offence dealt in the first time. However if these are the punishments, an attemtp to appeal them will usually result in a harsher punishment.

    Good luck with complying !

  • Shard

    Ronan Lee

    Debt was not the motivating factor ever. If it was that is foolish. What was most likely the motivating factor was that clubs like Leeds and Portsmouth went under. Debt was simply identified as the cause.

    When you sit down and think about it, it probably becomes impossible or unworkable (for reasons INCLUDING but not limited to self interest – which is what democracy is anyway. Interest groups) to use debt as a benchmark and stop clubs from acquiring debt, or even setting up a standard amount up to which debts can be accrued.

    The goalposts shift any time there is a new concept proposed. It always happens. Just because Quinn mentions it as a negative doesn’t make it a negative. I think limiting losses is a decent way out. Not perfect. I don;t expect that because nothing is ever perfect.

  • Gary

    I don’t know a single Arsenal fan who doesn’t feel like the club needs to buy this summer. I know Wenger is saying we don’t need an overhaul and I agree with him on that front. Arsenal don’t need an overhaul but Arsenal do need a striker, a defensive midfielder, a right back, a center back, and a keeper. Because Arsene Wenger even tried to sign a striker last summer, because Arsene Wenger even tried to sign a replacement for Arteta last summer, because Sagna is leaving and not only is he the starting right back but also a backup center back, and because Fabianski deserves a starting spot at keeper somewhere. That’s five players and I know I’ve said it before and I’m going to keep saying five players because people are still irrationally arguing that we only need one or two.

  • Shard


    Gary has copy/pasted that extract from another blog.

  • Ronan Lee


    I can’t be bothered reading anything else you have to say if you can’t debate in a polite manner. Good luck.


    As has been pointed out both Portsmouth and Leeds would’ve passed the FFP compliance test at the time they went into administration so how are the rules in their current format supposed to prevent that happening again.

    The way I see it is this, Southampton are in a position now where they’ve reached the glass ceiling, they have grown organically and produced a very fine team to get them there, they now need a huge investment in playing staff to compete at the same level as ‘top’ clubs but are prevented from doing this because the investment they likely need will see them fall foul of FFP, meanwhile their best talent will be poached by those at the top. For me that is wrong and that is ultimately my issue with these rules in their current format.

  • Shard

    Ronan Lee

    Read my comments to M18 about how you can’t just brush aside the impact of FFP even in past cases. One, inflation. Two, conceptually, they establishment of the idea of living within their means.

    Southampton, as long as they have a viable strategy for business growth, can always look for a loan (which is a cash injection) And look, individual cases don’t mean anything. It’s a return to the everyone deserves a billionaire argument which ignores the fact that there aren’t enough billionaires around who would be interested, and ignores the debilitating effect they canhave on all clubs.

    The FFP doesn’t prevent a billionaire from investing by the way. It simply prevents losses being posted in club accounts above a certain value (for now) Look at what Kroenke has done for Arsenal. Not gifted us any money, but his contacts and know-how have allowed Arsenal to massively raise their commercial income. Sure, we would have improved anyway, but I have no doubt his experience in sports teams helped us get more. It’s possible for Southampton to leverage whatever advantages they have and work towards building a bigger club. It’s more effort than getting a billionaire to give you charity, but is no less viable. In fact it assures more stable foundations. So no, that is a false argument that you make there.

  • M18CTID

    Thanks Tommie,

    I’m extremely honoured that you don’t deem me to be quite as full of shit as Ronan 😉


    Southampton are a cracking example of how a well-run club (albeit with a fair bit of outside investment though not on the same level as City of course) has progressed up to a certain point but is now in a situation where the bigger, more established clubs are now circling to pick off their best players and even their manager. Exactly the same thing happened with Swansea 2 years ago.

  • Shard

    And ARsenal are actually a good example here. You talk of Arsenal as if it’s a privileged club, and some ways it has been. But what Arsenal intended and set out to do in 2001, was to make a step up, since they had hit their ceiling. They could have just argued that it is impossible to do, but they didn’t. They planned on building a new stadium (after testing out the demand by playing at Wembley), and they sacrificed around 10 years of performance levels (only maintained in the elite because they have a great manager and support him), budgeted to even fall out of the CL (to much uproar from their own fans) and it is only 10 years later, that they are emerging out the other end, having raised their ceiling level to be comparable to the richest clubs in the world, having overtaken the likes of the Italian giants along the way.

    You say it is impossible to do. Arsenal prove it isn’t. It just takes hard work, planning, perseverance, and time.

  • M18CTID


    I don’t think it is a false argument re Southampton. Can you honestly envisage a scenario going forward where the likes of Saints are amongst the elite European clubs? It ain’t happening mate whichever way you look at it.

    And no, that doesn’t necessarily come back round to “everyone deserves a billionaire owner”. All it needs is a set of regs that guards against the lesser clubs being plundered for their best players all the time. A transfer/salary cap which limits the spending of the bigger clubs and in turn doesn’t see all the best players gravitate to those clubs (and in turn widening the gulf between the elite and the rest) would be a good idea, but only if it was implemented Europe-wide of course.

  • One little update – nothing in the Times today on the subject at all.

    And on the issue of ignoring, and not having evidence, all I can say (and sorry I thought I had made it clear before) “I understand that the club was so amazed at the finding it just ignored it”

    As I have said before “I understand that” is common journalistic parlance (you hear it on the radio 20 times a day from correspondents) to mean, one of my sources whom I trust told me. One doesn’t reveal the source, because to do so, would mean the end of that source.

    Anyway, time to publish something new and move on, at least until more stuff happens on this subject.

  • Shard


    Yet again you talk of a perfect solution (which I guarantee would not be perfect) I have already stated I would like salary caps (but then how would you institute the same rate of taxation, the same cost of living etc?) There are always some problems with everything.

    If Southampton show the same drive, patience, and skill that Arsenal have shown, of course they can make a place for themselves in the elite. Arsenal lost their best players too you know. Anelka, Overmars and Petit, Managed to keep hold of Vieira and Henry longer, but ultimately had to let them go because as I said, Arsenal were sacrificing to build for a better future. Lost Edu on a free, lost Adebayor and Toure. Flamini and Hleb. Cesc, Nasri, Clichy, Van Persie.

    Arsenal have been through a lot more than is apparent because we have a great manager, we were willing to trust him, and showe patience in him and the overall plan. It’s not been easy. But it can be done. So yes, Southampton can do it. It won’t be easy. But why should it be?

  • M18CTID


    Come on mate – Arsenal are a miles bigger club than Southampton with a far bigger support base too. You were one of the founder members of the G14 and you were/are one of the most popular clubs on the planet. You’re also located in the most affluent city in the UK that gives you even more advantage to increase your revenues.

    It’s nigh on impossible for Southampton (or pretty much any club outside London, no matter how big) to replicate the Arsenal model as successfully as Arsenal themselves have done.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I have been looking for the transfer budgets over the 90ties between Arsenal and MC. You know when Arsenal threw the Fizsman money around in the same way city is throwing money around lately.
    I couldn’t find numbers from 1991 but did find them from 1992

    Between 92 and 96 Arsenal spend in total £18.810.000 and City spend £9.401.200 in total. City then went down as you will now.

    From 96 to 2000 Arsenal spend £10.163.600 over those years and City spend £6.666.560 when not always being PL clubs.

    So total spend on transfers by Arsenal was £28.973.600 and City spend £16.067.760. A difference of just under £13M. Or around £ 1.613.230 per season difference between the two clubs.

    Now if Fiszman had given 50M to do transfer business the question might be asked: where has the money gone to? Not to transfers as you can see from these numbers.
    A total difference of not even £2M between the clubs per season and with City being not a PL club for a big part it doesn’t seem to me that we heavily distorted the transfer market.

  • Shard


    Nope. That isn’t true. You just state is as fact without any evidence. Yes Southampton are smaller than Arsenal. That doesn’t mean they have to stay at that level all throughout. They will need to first progress to a higher level, before they can think of progressing to the elite level. What’s wrong with that?

    Arsenal have advantages and disadvantages too. Everyone does. Everything will never be equal. Everything will be more unequal with a billionaire owner. That’s just fact.

    Now you shift goalposts to make it about Arsenal being privileged. But nobody gave us that fanbase, nobody gave us anything. QPR are in London too (and owned by a billionaire) and they don’t have a fanbase. Face it, you are arguing for rewarding mediocrity or even failure, over rewarding hard work. How can that ever be considered fair or more equal?

  • Micheal Ram

    I said it many times, dont mess with EU. There are no capitalists there, only crazy tough SOBs! Im loving this stand off. Like Clint Eastwood just ride into free-for-all town. I wonder who’s the ugly?

  • M18CTID


    So you don’t accept that Arsenal have an additional advantage because they can charge higher ticket prices due to being located in London? I’m not shifting the goalposts mate – I’m just explaining why it’s far easier for your club to do what it has done compared to most other clubs. Do you honestly think even decent sized clubs north of the Watford Gap would get away with charging between £985 and £1995 for a season ticket, and a fortune for corporate hospitality packages to boot? Not even United, the biggest club in the world, could get away with that. I take it you have heard of the North/South divide and that London has never been in recession these past few years whereas the rest of the country has?

  • Shard


    I saw everyone has advantages and disadvantages. To say it can’t be done is easy and akin to giving up. Arsenal prove that it is possible to step up a level. To breach the glass ceiling so to speak. Your argument is that it is impossible to overcome clubs with resources vastly greater than yours. In 2001, our annual turnover was 44m, which was less than ManU’s commercial income alone. We were losing more than a million pounds every home game compared to ManU. We were nowhere near the top 5 clubs in the world in terms of income. And yet today, here we are. That did not just happen. That did not just happen due to being in London either. That did not happen without sacrifice.

    The argument that it can’t be done existed way back then for Arsenal too. Arsenal proved it could be.

    So list out all the ‘unfair’ advantages Arsenal have. Arsenal could have listed out the advantages Barcelona and Real Madrid have. The advantages that Bayern Munich have. That Inter and Juventus enjoyed. But they still proved that it can be done. Provided there is a will to work towards it over a period of time.

    Anything else is just obfuscation of the fact that a) a billionaire model precludes that hard work and rewards clubs that failed and were irresponsible, and b) that the billionaire model isn’t viable anyway because there aren’t enough billionaires around for everyone.

  • Shard

    And it isn’t just Arsenal. All over the world, clubs gain a foothold to become bigger than their overall size would make you think is possible. Some clubs let their advantages slip and lose ground. Some do some yo-yoing. Why do you think any of this is wrong? There is no reason that a club cannot break through its shackles, whatever they may be, given enough preparation, hard work, and time.

    I don;t even know why this can even be up for debate. In your world every club and every organisation stays at the level it is without getting some charity to grow. That is absurd.

  • WalterBroeckx

    And even with 20 billionaires owning each one Pl club still at the end only one will win it and 3 will go down.

  • jambug

    Fucking hell this City lot really are touchy about how they should be left alone to BUY as many trophies as they feel fit to.

    Sit down, calm down, and enjoy your trophy, after all you paid enough money for it..

  • M18CTID


    The point is that Arsenal weren’t a small or even mid-sized club back then. You were a historically big club that clearly had a support base that was way too big for Highbury. You filled Wembley for your Champions League games in 1998-99 remember.

    I don’t doubt that a hell of a lot of hard work has gone into getting Arsenal to where they are now but it’s pure fantasy to think that every other club can repeat such a feat. You were a big club at the time which was a good starting point but you’re massively under-estimating the effect of London-weighting in terms of generating income in modern day football. Tottenham could replicate it as they’re also a big club with a good support base, and perhaps West Ham at a push with their impending move to the Olympic Stadium but I’d happily offer you odds of 1000-1 or more on anyone outside of those two doing an Arsenal. It’s not totally impossible but it’s highly improbable. And that’s not me defending the billionaire model – it’s me being a realist.

  • M18CTID


    I think I can safely say that us match-going City fans have paid less money to see our club win 4 trophies in 4 seasons than you match-going Arsenal fans have paid to see your club win zero trophies in 9 seasons. I don’t think it needs spelling out which set of fans is getting the better value for money 😉

  • M18CTID


    Seriously, you’re living in the past if you think it’s that easy for clubs to grow these days. The difference between the haves and have-nots in the game has never been greater. It simply isn’t possible for any club to grow mainly organically to a point where it can call itself one of the world’s elite.

    If you think it’s a realistic proposition, then we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  • Shard


    I don’t disagree that it is tough. I just think the argument that SOuthampton are somehow being wronged by making clubs live within their means is false.

    The point isn’t just about being a big club. Arsenal faced years of not spending much money at all while having their best players nicked away, and yet they found the means to stay at the level even as their money was being used to boost their future incomes.

    There is no reason that it should spell the end of Southampton if they have to sell some of their players. They just need to adequately replace them, either through the market, or their academy. Like Arsenal did when they lost their players (even before the stadium build expenditure)

    Can they just suddenly join the elite? No. That isn’t my argument. The argument is that it is possible to build up your club and improve without relying on someone to blow all other contenders out of the market. Despite the disadvantages that exist.

    Of course, not every club can get to join the European elite. As Walter said, that is impossible even with getting a billionaire. In fact I feel a billionaire is dangerous because they can do whatever they want with your club whenever they please. And when despite putting in money, they are not winning, the next logical step is to either exit, or create a league of billionaires with salary caps, so as to assure profits, or at least limit spending.

    So I don’t see the FFP as being against any club growing. I see it as preventing the billionaires from taking over the game.

  • Shard


    And you think billionaires DECREASE these disparities??

  • M18CTID


    Not at all mate. But they’re not the root cause of these disparities, more a symptom. A lot of the blame can in fact be laid at UEFA’s door for creating such large disparities in the prize money on offer between the CL and UEFA Cup/Europa League. There used to be a time where it was viewed as an honour to be competing for any of the 3 European trophies but now we only have 2 on offer and one has been shockingly devalued to a Thursday night graveyard slot. UEFA are as guilty as anyone for fuelling the widening gap and you can’t blame rich people for coming along and wanting a slice of the lucrative pie on offer.

  • jambug


    And exactly what relevance has that to the fact you just want to be allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money buying trophy after trophy?

    When you’re not living within your means, but rather living of the funding of a Nation state, it’s hardly surprising your ticket prices are low.

    How much do you think they’d be paying to watch your team if:

    A) The £500 MILLION plus net spend(loss) on transfers had to be paid for by the you?


    B) You had to pay for a Stadium at a cost of near £500 MILLION?

    Bragging about how little you have to pay to get in to see your team when you’ve been donated over £1 BILLION is as crass and brainless as the rest of your arguments regarding your UNLIMITED spending.

  • Shard

    Symptom or not, it and its symptoms, need addressing. It might not take away all the ills of disparity, but like I argued before, the CL disparities are not enough so as to be insurmountable, especially with domestic TV rights growing (in England, and Germany) unlike the disparity created by the billionaires which is completely insurmountable.

    That is not an argument against some better formula for sharing the wealth, and I think it will happen. Or it could go the opposite route and clubs actually start selling their own tv rights as happens in Spain, in which case, there is no other option than a breakaway league I think.

    But to argue that just because a certain ‘wrong’ exists, we should allow an even bigger ‘wrong’, is not something I can agree with.

    The billionaire model is disgustingly restrictive and in no way the argument that it is more fair stands any scrutiny. It is only as fair as winning the lottery is, but you do not base your business around winning a lottery. You base it around projections of growth, enterprise, and being creative with new ideas. I see nothing wrong in making businesses act like businesses.

    Aaaaannnd… We’re done. No more. Thanks though. I think this was an interesting discussion, not least because it made me think a bit more clearly about my stance on the issue.

  • M18CTID

    Now now jambug calm down mate, take a chill pill, and breathe. I actually have some empathy for the amount of money Arsenal fans have to shell out for tickets but I think you’ll find that Arsenal charges those prices not because they HAVE TO but because they CAN.

    I’m sorry if you thought I was being facetious – did you not see my winky smiley? Anyway, it’s time I took a time out from here and went back to enjoying the fact that we’re champions 😉

  • M18CTID


    Just like last time we debated this, you and I will never totally agree but I’d just like to point out that while City have benefitted from heavy investment we are also being run as a business. You’re surely aware of the investment not just in the playing side but in the whole infrastructure of the club as well.

    I’m done too mate – I think we’re all debated out for now and I really do need to get some work done (us Northerners do work as well you know lol). Until the next time this subject crops up that is 😉

  • Georgaki-pyrovolitis

    M18CTID at 1:41 pm

    “The point is that Arsenal weren’t a small or even mid-sized club back then”

    According to Alex Fynn and Kevin Whitcher Arsenal were indeed a mid-sized club before the Wenger era. It’s in:

    Arsenal: The Making of a Modern Superclub by Alex Fynn and Kevin Whitcher

    According to that book Arsenal were toward the “upper-end of mid-sized clubs”. If my memory serves me well, about the same size if not slightly smaller than Tottenham!

    That book describes the development of a mid-sized club to what it is today because of hard work, nerves of steel and a brilliant manager. It suggests it can be done as Shard has repeated time and again.

    The ability to charge high prices came as a consequence of becoming a superclub in a city like London.

  • Georgaki-pyrovolitis

    Incidentally, how can Man United be the richest club in the world and not be in London?

  • Georgaki-pyrovolitis

    Top quality debate from all by the way. Thanks

  • jambug


    I’m perfectly calm.

    I just think City fans are blinkered.

    City fans probably think the same of me.

    Just going round in circles.

    My last comment on this………..for now anyway 😉

  • Will Rickson

    Your logic is flawed very flawed Jambug you seem to be saying FFP is flawed but s step in the right direction despite the damage it does to competition. Why then are you not Anti FFP and pro the better solution? Could it be because you think it will help your club at the expense of others and to the damage of football i might add? Your also assuming or suggesting we will basically ruin the competition by taking over the world with out unlimited spending. Yet even you have admitted we are run as business those views do not tally up

  • Gord

    Speaking of money, the TV revenues are out (in Pounds Stirling). The Daily Star is where I seen it, as an image. Three of the columns are contant for all teams (equal share, central commercial and overseas TV), which total to 52 298 111. Here is the variable part (with underscores replacing spaces, variable width fonts will still mangle):

    Arsenal______4_______19 658 558__21 013 411__92 870 080
    AVilla______15_______13 052 288___7 416 498__72 666 897
    Cardiff_____20________8 648 108___1 263 083__62 082 302
    Chelsea______3_______19 658 558__22 249 494__94 106 163
    CPalace_____11________8 648 108__12 360 830__73 207 049
    Everton______5_______13 052 288__19 777 328__85 027 727
    Fulham______19________8 648 108___2 472 166__63 318 385
    Hull________16________8 648 108___6 180 415__67 026 634
    Liverpool____2_______21 860 648__23 485 577__97 544 336
    ManCity______1_______19 658 558__24 721 660__96 578 329
    ManU_________7_______19 658 558__17 305 162__89 161 831
    Newcastle___10_______11 584 228__13 596 913__77 392 252
    Norwich_____18________8 648 108___3 708 249__64 554 468
    Southampton__8________8 648 108__16 069 079__76 915 298
    Stoke________9________8 648 108__14 832 996__75 679 215
    Sunderland__14_______10 850 198___8 652 581__71 700 890
    Swansea_____12_______10 850 198__11 124 747__74 173 056
    Spurs________6_______18 924 528__18 541 245__89 663 884
    WBA_________17________8 648 108___4 944 332__65 790 551
    WHam________13_______11 584 228___9 888 664__73 671 003

  • bjtgooner

    Thanks Gord.

    Can anyone advise why Liverpool had the highest facility payment? Is it related to the number of matches televised? The merit payments seem straight forward.

  • Gord

    The number of TV matches was the reason given in the article.

  • nicky

    All these comments about the prices charged by Arsenal miss an important fact of life….it’s called London Weighting 😉

  • Valentin

    People who don’t know the difference between debt, deficit and structural deficit should not comment on FFP.
    What FFP is trying to tackle is structural deficit. That is why club can have a deficit but that deficit is capped and should be going down.
    What UEFA wants is club to be self-sustainable in the long run. It also want to preserve the sporting integrity of the game. Whatever the personal motive you want to attribute to Platini and the UEFA, everybody should support that goal.
    People may criticise the FFP, but having read the rules, they make sense. I would go as far as saying that even the proposed punishment make sense. Manchester City may well be surprised by UEFA finding, but they should not. They have been using every accounting tricks in the book to bypass that regulation. Signing contracts with related companies at price not comparable with market reality. Check. Sell at inflated prices of intangibles such as pseudo Intellectual Properties. Check. Use of amortisation for assets (players) that have since been sold at a loss, but profit taking of any asset sold at benefit. Check. Requalification of regular expenses as exceptional expenses. Check. Change of auditors to confuse them and get a more sympathetic ear. Check. Hiring of expensive legal lawyers prior to any lawyer in order to bully the regulator. Check.
    It’s just that the regulator refuses to be bullied and take them to tasks. It’s like the kid who has been caught with the hand in the cookies jar by his mom, who keep complaining that his mom was not supposed to be back until later. They may have big pocket, but I think ultimately they will lose their appeal for the simple reason that Sport and sport organisation have been given special dispensation to write its own rules. Nothing and nobody can stop Manchester a City to create its own league. If it want to be part of UEFA tournament, it just has to abide to its laws. The only situations where Big sport organisation lose is when they don’t abide by their own rules or when some their rules are in breach of a country. Usually Switzerland. That does not apply here.
    Also on a more enjoyment perspective.
    Manchester City fans may want their billionaire owner spend their fortune on their club, however the champion’s league would be completely devalued if the result were to be determined only by who has the biggest chequebook. The main attraction in sport is that part of unpredictability. When tournament become procession, people switch off. Formula 1 was facing the exact same dilemma. Cost were spiralling so much out of control, only one team could win. In developed countries Viewing figures were down everywhere. Changes in rules were introduced for the sole purpose to make it more competitive. Different team, different drivers.
    Think about the Scottish premiership. Celtic fans may be very happy of Rangers difficulties, but deep down they are bored. They wish that Rangers were in the same division to make it more interesting. A proper sporting contest. If Manchester City were to win the next 5 Champion’s leagues, would their fans still be happy? I doubt that.
    There is a reason why the USA, that bastion of capitalism is using a communist approach to all its national sport competitions: NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL. Drama, talent (both in the players and in the coaching staff), unpredictability is what entice millions to watch sport.

  • john L

    shard, m18 etc…

    pretty sure, the g-14 (which funnily enough had like 18 teams in it) has been disbanded.

    FFP is not about city. city have failed to comply along with a few other clubs. these regulations have been being phased in for a couple years. this is year two of stricter punishments i.e malaga last summer. EPL has similar regulations being phased in, i believe the bundesliga has similar regulations. no one is singling out manchester city…..this is going to become the new norm in football.

    it may be a case that some clubs are supporting this acting in self interest aka chelsea (in a remarkably pot, kettle black situation)….which isnt fair. nor is a billionaire buying a club and spending infinite amounts of money…like abrahimovic did.
    but, its important to keep in mind that the EPL, the greed is good league, is phasing in similar rules. rules that clubs like swansea, southampton, stoke etc etc also voted for.

    i think theres a general consensus in football that something needed to be done. clubs that have taken a certain approach will be affected, yes…but wasnt that the whole point?

  • john L


    love that last point. i dont always like them, but american sports organization is really something football (soccer) should be looking at…

  • Notoverthehill


    I have all the Arsenal Financial Accounts for the 1990s.

    The only Creditors of substance were the Debenture Holders.

    I quote (Finance Report 31st May 1996):

    ‘The debenture subscriptions have been applied to the redevelopment of the Highbury Stadium. Under the issue terms the debentures are repayable at par after 150 years. The debentures are interest free.’

    The value was £14,437,500.

    I would suggest that Tony Adams had a book to sell?

    Most interesting from the ManCity supporters. Tony, has mentioned that Stadium before. IF, ManCity bought the Stadium from the Manchester City Council (or subsidiary owner), this would achieve FFP compliance?

  • TommieGun

    Valentin thanks for the very educational post! Loved that really.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Does EU law apply to private members clubs?

  • Notoverthehill

    Walter, I am not bothered about ManCity!

    From the Financial Reports 1991-1996:

    Transfer Fees payable – (£31,663,560)
    Transfer Fees receivable £12,898,235
    George Graham’s receivable £482,205

    Somewhat lower than your projection!

    For the period 1997-2000

    Transfer Fees payable – (£46,022,000)
    Transfer Fees receivables £28,515,000

    Again, somewhat lower.

  • Shard

    John L

    You know.. You are correct that the G-14 disbanded. (I did note, but did not mention, the incorrectness of M18’s comment about Arsenal being a founding member of G-14)

    The G-14 was disbanded in 2008 after reaching an agreement with Uefa and Fifa on them paying compensation to the clubs if players get injured on national team duty in tournaments.

    The G-14 was replaced by the European CLub Association with Rummenigge as Chairman. The ECA represent 214 clubs across Europe and is the sole body representing clubs.

    I guess that makes the argument about the G-14 clubs shaping the FFP exclusively to meet their ends even less plausible.

  • Shard


    Thank you for that information. Any chance you know where I could find these reports online?

  • john L

    @ shard,

    thanks for clearing that up….and thats what i thought….but my memory can be strange sometimes…

    and your absolutely right. saying the g-14 was shaping FFP isnt the most plausible argument!

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    The Man City argument is that nobody would dare question them. Guess what? PSG has not dared effing off UEFA, as the Qataris have learned their lesson somewhere else; I will, in due time, explain what this means. The Man City ownership hired lawyers very familiar with the writing of UEFA’s FFP rules, and were so sure that any BS such as “intellectual property rights” would fly that they were shocked to be in violation of the rules.

    Incidentally, Roman Abramovich was aware of Chelsea’s problems a couple of years ago, so he met Platini in person, and showed that the money he pumped into the first team was considered as part of the valuation of the team; this was partly palatable because Chelsea, bar the Torres deal, had brought in good transfer targets, and the team value went up accordingly.

    Man City could not do that because many of their transfers came during the immediate pre-FFP era, and too many of these transfers were ill considered (Jo for 18 mil, Ben Haim for 5 mil, Wright-Philips for 8.5 mil, Robinho for 32.5 mil, Bridge for 10 mil, Bellamy for 14 mil, de Jong for 16 mil, Barry for 12 mil, Santa-Cruz for 18 mil, Tevez for 25.5 mil, Adebayor for 25 mil, Kolo Toure for 16 mil, Lescott for 22 mil, Balotelli for 24 mil, Savic for 15 mil, Rodwell for 12 mil, Sinclair for 6 mil, Maicon for 5 mil, and 91 mil this last summer on mostly good grade players; note that I am not listing players who have had a real impact, while I listed both Robinho and Tevez despite the fact that they had some impact, and even Balotelli was above par until he pushed his own self-destruct button) resulting in the club valuation not going up as should have been expected.

    You can argue some of the decisions were due to the fact that bad managers spent too much money, or non-footballing individuals had too much involvement or Thaksin left the club with too many imponderables… The net result, comparing MCFC to Chelsea is clear: Chelsea did far better with the transfer market, hence the fact that their “valuation” was up while MCFC’s could not go up according to this criterion.

    In retrospect, you must wonder why the owners bought this club in a depressed city (with MUFC to compete with) when they could have gone for a club with a rich history like Aston Villa that is now on the sale block, in a City where Birmingham and WBA would pose less competition) and one has to wonder if Thaksin was able to peddle his club because of his skills as a politician, and in fact a good politician when you look at the opposition in Thailand.

    Now let me tell you how I feel: I like the fact that MCFC has won the title because of the many media hypocrites that went on the Liverpool bandwagon, I am also happy for Lee Dixon; 25 years ago he started with a pass what would be the “up for grabs” goal that gave the title to Arsenal against Liverpool, and his smile when Man City wrapped the title this year was a subtle “f**k you” to the Liverpudlian pundits. Most of us also like most of the players at Man City, even Yaya Toure after his horrible tackle on Giroud, but NOT Nasri, and NOT the since off-loaded Adebayor.

    I can’t imagine Arsene Wenger spending this kind of money ever without a far better return; Man City has bought two titles, but they played good football; AW could never be in charge at Man City, as he would not relinquish control over any issues dealing with the running of the club.

    As a side story, Arsene Wenger would have fined Nasri (and forced him to apologize) for his girlfriend’s or wife’s (whatever she is) tweets. I suggest to the MCFC responsible party to take care of this issue. Nasri’s presence within the French National Team is disruptive; he lacks class and disrespects some of the better / older players. The twitter outburst is all of his making, not his girlfriend’s / wife’s.

  • M18CTID


    Just thought I’d dip back in this thread one last time. Yes, you’re correct of course – Arsenal weren’t a founder member of the G14, only joining when it became the G18 a couple of years later so apologies for that.

    On the G14/G18 note, I’m fully aware that it’s been disbanded and replaced with the ECA but I don’t doubt that many of those clubs who were part of it still hold huge influence over UEFA. It would be naïve to think that they haven’t had a significant say in shaping some of the FFP regs – as I said in an earlier post Platini has gone on record and quoted the owners of 3 clubs (2 of whom were founder members of the G14) who said they wanted something done. Let’s be frank here – it’s not UEFA that holds the power in European football. It’s the clubs themselves and some clubs have more influence than others. There have been threats by some of Europe’s heavyweight clubs in the past to form a breakaway league if UEFA don’t bow to some of their demands so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that UEFA will be keen not to unduly upset them. By the same token, I don’t think they really want to kick City out either as we’re now a marketable club with marketable players which adds something to the competition. You could call it a delicate balancing act.

  • Shard


    I actually was not aware (or did not remember) that the G-14 had been disbanded. I looked it up after john l’s comment.

    Yes, I agree with you that it doesn’t mean that the bigger clubs don’t hold more influence. They are very likely to.

    At the same time, since they are now bargaining as a collective of 214 clubs (105 of which have the same membership status as the big clubs)with every association represented, the bigger clubs cannot simply shape legislation for their narrow interests without having a larger consensus among football clubs.

    So to my mind, it is not a very convincing argument that FFP came out the way it has due to the ‘cartel’ protecting their status and preventing other clubs from reaching their level. The rest of the clubs voted for it too, and the argument that it was initially reported to be looking to address only debt is quite simply bunkum. City fans would do well to think a little more about that before slating the FFP on those two terms and saying that is proof of how repressive/monopolistic it is.

  • M18CTID


    Yeah, I do agree that there’s a fair bit of rabid paranoia amongst some of our fans at the moment regarding it and whether some clubs are seriously angling to get us kicked out. You might think I’m one such paranoid fan but believe me, my thoughts on the subject pale into insignificance compared to tinfoil hat merchants. While we all should’ve been looking forward to the conclusion of the title race last week, I ended up feeling like slitting my wrists after reading some of the comments online from a few of our fans that were quite literally bordering on the suicidal.

    Thing is, from my own and other’s personal experience of talking to match-going fans of all clubs (ours included) when following City home and away, very few seem to have much of an interest in FFP and most discussions seem to simply centre around fans just talking about their respective teams. I didn’t go to Arsenal away this season but a mate went with his son and drank in the same pub we went in the season before and he said the Arsenal fans in there were far more pre-occupied in voicing their concerns about what was happening at their own club. City’s spending and FFP didn’t even get a mention.

  • Shard


    I certainly don’t think of you as paranoid (You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been called that)

    Yeah, I agree most fans don’t talk about the FFP. Why would they? It’s not sexy, it’s not fun, and it really is quite incomprehensible at the moment with a lot of uncertainty around it.

    All the same, I think FFP is going to change the football landscape. Exactly what comes out from it is something which is difficult to know at this stage. But we’ll see.

  • M18CTID


    Regardless of our differing opinions re FFP your last bit sums it up to me. FFP will markedly change things yet despite it’s importance it continues to be greeted with indifference by a vast majority of match going fans. Maybe part of that is because, as you say, it isn’t a particularly exciting topic.

  • WalterBroeckx

    A possible twist in the FFP rulings and punishments.
    Former Belgian prime minister Jean Luc Dehaene has suddenly died while in France. Probably on a holiday? He was chairman of one of the committees that had to rule over the punishments about FFP.

    He was just recovering from cancer treatment.

    I wonder if this will influence the whole process. In interviews he had declared to be very much in favour of a hard line against offenders. As he is now dead I will not repeat the words that described that I didn’t really trusted him when he said this.

    I think you will understand I didn’t like him and didn’t trust him in his political ways.

  • M18CTID

    I don’t think it will affect UEFA’s decision making process Walter but he was an important figure in UEFA with regards to FFP.

    I don’t know too much about Jean Luc Dehaene but wasn’t he involved in some corruption scandal some years ago?

  • WalterBroeckx

    In Dutch we have this expression that translated means : we don’t say bad things about the dead.
    He himself was not involved in such things as far as we know. But I don’t like him for the way he conducted himself in the politics. Other politicians in his government have been involved. But at the end of the day…all Belgium politicians who were in government have ended up with dirty hands… 😉 Well not all, just most of them 🙂

  • Mandy Dodd

    We have similar Walter…..not to speak evil of the dead……but I remember your article well on this gentleman!

  • Linz

    Fiszman did not give Arsenal 50 mill, check the bloody accounts City fans, they are open to all as we are a PLC. Where Adams has got confused is that it is possible that Arsenal BORROWED 50 mill from the bank to fund purchases and Fiszman acted as a guarantor.However the money was paid back promptly thus Fiszmans money was not used.

  • M18CTID


    So you think Fiszman didn’t donate 50 million because it didn’t show up in the accounts, but you think it’s possible that 50 million was borrowed instead? Fair enough, but by your logic this possible “borrowed” 50 million that you’re prepared to accept might’ve happened would’ve shown up in the accounts would it not? Fact is, neither scenario shows up in the accounts but it seems a bit convenient that you’re prepared to entertain the latter scenario and I wouldn’t mind betting you’re running with that train of thought because it suits the argument that you’ve never benefitted from benefactor investment, Norris excepted of course 😉

    I accept that it isn’t totally clear what happened but if you look at the timeline that Adams is referring to it coincided with a significant increase in Arsenal’s transfer expenditure over the next few years.

    Of course, Adams could’ve been bunged a few quid by City to say what he said. After all, we seem to get blamed in some quarters for everything that is wrong with football so one more thing to add to the list is neither here nor there lol.