And while we are on the question of FFP – think of QPR

By Tony Attwood

In June this year I wrote a little piece Could Leicester and QPR be relegated to League one? which was my second foray into the morass that is FFP in the Championship.   The point being that clubs which buy their way out of the Championship could be severely punished if they ever return to the league.

Now it seems that I was being too lenient, for The Football League has said that QPR could be consigned to the Conference if they get relegated from the Premier League this season or any time in the future – unless they pay the fine of around £40m that the League has lined up for them.

The problem is that QPR’s accounts show, rather in the way that I suggested they might show (and as you can tell from this article and the one this morning, I am feeling rather good about the having got a few of my FFP predictions I’ve got right this year) rather large losses.   £65.4m for the year ending May 2013, in fact.

Rather careless if you ask me.

And the losses for the financial year ending May 2014 when they got promotion are thought to be along the same lines.  Well, Arry is the great wheeler dealer so I expect they will.

Now what makes QPR so interesting is that they have been  the Man City of the  Championship with chairman Tony Fernandes saying pretty much that these rules aren’t fair and don’t apply to QPR.  The Premier League ain’t happy about this either, and they have refused to collect the fine (which is why it will only turn up when a promoted club goes back down).

The Premier League forced the Championship to agree to give the fine to charity, not to the clubs that obeyed the rules, and they are pushing the League to change the whole approach of the rules.  But meanwhile it does mean that we might see certain charities sponsoring league clubs in the future though!

So if QPR go down, the League will slap a fine on QPR.  QPR will refuse to pay and if they don’t pay the League can throw them out.  Although it is more likely they will try and settle with something less than that, like a whopping great points deduction, or a fine over several seasons, or forcing them to play in the Fijian second division.

Actually I made the last one up.

Shaun Harvey, Chief Ex of the League said, “The one thing for certain is that most clubs [in the Premier League] will become a Football League club again.  Now QPR will of course be hoping it does not happen for some considerable number of seasons but the chances they will need to return to the Football League fold at some point. Certainly, three of the 20 clubs that are in the Premier League will be in the Football League next season.

“Unless the 24 clubs vote to change the rules, the rules as they are now will stay in place. I don’t suspect there is any form of rule change that would be considered or brought forward that would see the current circumstances we potentially face changing.”

The FFP sanctions in the Championship are quite neat.  Those clubs that don’t go to the Premier League get lumbered with a transfer embargo.  Those that go up get a fine or points deduction when they come back down.

The QPR boss, said, “My view has been consistent, that it is very unfair for a club that has been relegated as the wage difference between the Premier League and Championship is impossible. There should be a time period for clubs to rectify their salaries.  If we were in the Championship in two years with that wage bill it wouldn’t be right. I’m in favour of FFP but it is unfair for a club coming down.”

So, despite all the suggestions that FFP would not happen, that everyone would back down, that the EC would rule it illegal, that everyone would fudge their way round it, it seems that there is action happening in the Championship, as it is at the European level.

Just to clarify the Championship rules the allowable loss for 2013/14 was £8m, so QPR did rather overdo it last season. First punishments to be handed out in December.

And QPR are not the only ones who might be in trouble.  AFC Bournemouth lost £15.3m in 2012/13 when they got promotion from League One.  They are going to have had to make a massive turn around in their accounts last season (in the championship) to avoid problems.  I’m not sure they did.

Other big losses in 2012/13 who will be in trouble unless they utterly slashed their expenditure last year are

  • Bolton £50.6m
  • Blackburn £36.5m (spending more than their turnover on player salaries)
  • Wolverhampton £30.4m
  • Middlesbrough £18.5m
  • Nottingham Forest £17.1m

Of course I don’t claim that I have got everything right here; I take my figures from public sources, and listen to what the accountants are saying.   It is just that one or two of my wilder predictions are turning out to be somewhere near the truth, so I am encouraged to carry on plodding away with FFP matters.

Meanwhile it is rather reassuring to support a club that actually makes money much of the time.


The books
The complete Arsenal Anniversary series is to be found on the Arsenal History Society site.

28 Replies to “And while we are on the question of FFP – think of QPR”

  1. Like many others you know nothing of the finances of Leicester city… mate join the long line of ill informed “experts” when it comes to commenting on the Foxes and their so called “big” spending..

  2. John Allen, I could say that like many others you know nothing of what Untold is about or has published before. We had others making the same point here last time I wrote about this – and of course you could be right. As I have admitted here and in other articles I am working from public sources of information, and the bits and pieces I am slipped by what we might call reliable sources.

    But what is interesting is that as with Man C, when people write in and tell writers on this site that we are misguided and wrong, they don’t come up with any serious evidence, or explanations.

    In their last accounts, which are a public document, Leicester had a wage bill of £26.1m. However they had a turnover of £19.6m Thus they spent more on salaries than they earned. They made a loss before tax of £34m.

    Now that is what their own figures show, as supplied in public records, which they are required to do as a limited company.

    So tell me, how is that not problematic under FFP?

  3. You used examples of QPR and Leicester at the introduction of your “article”then proceeded to say nothing about the foxes at all. You quote “public records” without dates or context,a snapshot of any set of figures can distort and misrepresent the real facts. Bolton are said to be 163 million in debt..pick on them.

  4. I’m a Leicester City fan, and acknowledge the ill-advised spending spree under Sven Goran Eriksson as a mistake. However Sven left 3 years ago, and that time period has been spent sorting out the financial mess that was created.

    That couldn’t happen overnight. There’s still players under contract who are on carefree era contracts (e.g. Paul Gallagher who has barely played for 2 years, but who earns too much to get rid of.

    Last season we only started signing players once Ben Marshall was sold to Blackburn. With that money Hammond, Taylor-Fletcher, Wasilewski, Phillips and Mahrez were signed (3 of those were free).

    Sources from the club have also acknowledged the need to comply with FFP, and seem confident that all the measures taken to reduce cost, along with the success of 2013/14 will be enough. Whether it is, we don’t know, but the current day Leicester City (not the Sven era one) is nothing like QPR.

    Any reference to Leicester City being a “big-spending” side is outdated I’m afraid.

  5. ‘Big spending’ Leicester is most certainly out of date. Under Nigel Pearson, we have rarely spent much (if any) on players. Even including our summer leading up to our Premier League season, players like Hamer, Albrighton, Upson, Cambiasso etc have been brought in on free transfers. Whereas QPR continue to throw money at players, Leicester have went about things in a much different way over the last couple of years.

    This is an excellent assessment of how things may now be being done and how they may become the norm. But, as the writer points out, other clubs might cry foul and, in the end, if players don’t deliver increases in revenue (and in a competitive envoronment they can’t all do that) then the shit will still hit the fan somewhere or other.

  7. @ johnallen, ok, fair enough you are refuting Tony’s numbers, but not actually giving us any facts to come to a different conclusion. Personally I have nothing against Leicester as the missus was a long term season ticket holder pre kids and I saw a lot of them when they played on different days to Arsenal. But if you’re going to say Tony is talking rubbish then pull the annual accounts off companies house webcheck for £1 and educate us.

  8. Just to point out those financial figures for QPR are from 2012/13 season when we were in the Premier League. FFP in the football league only counts when you are n the football league so the 2013/14 season for QPR. The accounts for last season have not been published yet for any club so it’s all speculation at the moment from what the punishment will be to what the reaction will be from the club. I’d be surprised if Leicester fail them on last years accounts as I don’t think they spent a great deal last season.

    I personally don’t see how the rules can stand up in court especially as QPR were not in the football league when they were agreed. For me clubs coming down from the premier league where wages are vastly different should get longer to get their house in order, to do it in less than a year is near impossible and will just lead to clubs accepting relegation from the prem to avoid a fine and taking away the excitement of both leagues. The idea of giving it all to charity is just emotional blackmail to clubs, any fine should be going to grass roots football or into a pot to help clubs in financial trouble who can gets loans from the football league to get them out of trouble. Instead as ever in football the money will go down the drain.

    QPR will have made losses last year but the whole ffp thing is a bit of a joke. Most of the contracts QPR signed with players was done before the rules were agreed, we could hardly rip those up the moment we got relegated and start again, those players still had to be paid no matter how bad they were and how stupid we were for signing them in the first place, Thanks again Mark Hughes.

    Since then most of the high earners have either been sold or released and the players bought in during the last financial year have sell on values such as Charlie Austin and Matt Phillips. Should be pointed out most of QPR’s signings last season were on loan so the figures may not be as spectacular as they were when we were throwing money around after anything with a pulse.

    If we fall foul of the rules we’ll get punished but the rules are designed to protect the top clubs in the country and ensure clubs like Arsenal and co continue to make money after all it was these clubs who wrote the rules.

    Man Utd after years of moaning about other big spenders and forcing these rules through showed exactly what the real agenda was when they went spending mad the moment City and Chelsea could no longer match their spending power under these rules. I can see these rules killing football in this country as the dream of breaking into the elite has now gone forever for 99% of the clubs in the football league and a good chunk of the prem as well.

  9. “So, despite all the suggestions that FFP would not happen, that everyone would back down, that the EC would rule it illegal, that everyone would fudge their way round it, it seems that there is action happening in the Championship, as it is at the European level.”

    This element is still a bit presumptuous and not fact based. People in the media are talking about possibilities with league officials and reporting them. Action might happen, and then it is likely that the EU/EC may be involved and clubs may fudge their way round.

  10. I am not sure how well informed we all are at the moment regarding the position of QPR & others in this situation. I am a QPR fan and have seen us with no money and now the with the ability to have one of the largest budgets in the Championship last season to escape back to the misery of the Premier League.
    Journalists and blog writers such as yourself do not have the true facts and are purely speculating. However, and ironically bar Arsenal, all clubs are guilty over history of buying success (Arsenal are guilty a bit too). Are we going to punish everyone bar Arsenal.
    When we had buckets outside the stadium begging for money did we get any help…NO. So why should we cop a hefty fine just because we got lucky with rich owners, when we are as guilty as everyone else. Doesn’t seem right somehow. The whole story sucks and most QPR fans are ambivalent to this as we know it is going to be renegotiated by the League and the lawyers. Mital & Fernandez have described our debt as a soft debt(meaning they will bail us out if it goes tits up) so Alan Brazil and the Sun can write what they want but most of it is BS my friend! Oh and by the way…if QPR can’t win the league (which we can’t because the big clubs keep getting bigger due to manipulating their status in the football world – slightly unfair I know – ironic eh!) then I hope Arsenal do. Good luck this season.

  11. Dogf1sh, the starting point of your very reasoned comment asks how well informed we all are. The answer I must give is the same one that I gave to the Leicester fan who wrote in far more immoderate tones. The information I publish here, and the information that the Leagues use is within the accounts of the company, as deposited with Revenue and Customs.

    What happens by way of interpretation of these figures and the rules of the Championship are then matters for debate, but the inescapable fact is that QPR and all the other clubs knew what the rules said when they competed last season. And those rules were created by the majority of the clubs and voted for at the AGM.

    So although I take your point, it is also a point that in a democratic situation, the majority votes for what they want, and everyone has to agree to it, or else leave the show.

  12. Again Tony you are still looking at the wrong accounts, the ones that count have not been published yet and will include some big money sales, a new sponsorship deal with nike and since then many high wage earners have all gone so the situation is improving at the club but was never going to happen over night. FFP in the football league was all agreed when QPR were not in the league, the three who went down last year and the three this year will probably also eventually be punished for rules they never signed up for as the Premier League FFP rules are very different.

  13. “My view has been consistent, that it is very unfair for a club that has been relegated as the wage difference between the Premier League and Championship is impossible.”

    Don’t relegated clubs get parachute payments to help them with this?

  14. “But what is interesting is that as with Man C, when people write in and tell writers on this site that we are misguided and wrong, they don’t come up with any serious evidence, or explanations.”

    What, like when you hilariously claimed (and keep insisting to this day) that City were blatantly ignoring UEFA? Unless you’ve got Platini on speed dial, that comment of yours had absolutely no basis in fact – you just believed the newspapers (the very same ones you never stop criticising when they publish an article that is perceived to have a negative slant towards AFC by the way) that reckoned UEFA’s punishments were to be published on May 9th 2014 and when nothing was announced on that date you concocted a bizarre theory that City weren’t responding to any UEFA correspondence when the truth is that all clubs found to be in breach of FFP were working behind the scenes with UEFA and negotiating their respective settlements. Just one week later on May 16th announced each club’s punishment simultaneously so where you get this hare-brained idea from that City were refusing to talk to UEFA is beyond me.

    I’m not being funny Tony but you might want to follow your own advice in future when accusing other fans of not coming up with “serious evidence” because it’s clear that much of what you say is opinion masquerading as fact. And when you do post actual “facts” they often turn out to be anything but as alluded to by Mike T the other week when you published an absolute car crash of an article about Chelsea which contained a huge amount of incorrect information. Maybe I missed it but I didn’t see you publish anything in the way of a retraction when Mike T pointed out what you had got wrong. Even in this article you’ve got Leicester’s wage bill wrong from their last set of accounts – it was actually £22.95 million, not £26.1 million. Not a huge difference but wrong all the same.

  15. One of the Tottenham trolls that used to frequent a few Arsenal fans was convinced that Levy “knew what he was doing.” Which was always a comment that raised a few laughs. Of course he’s meant gone an expert in such development projects too, that’s what the Tottenham fans told us here. Who knows!

    But just on the football, how much did Levy spend on Bentley…?about the same which AFC just spent on Danny Welbeck. I couldn’t make it up, could I?

    Yet how bad a press have the press been giving AFC over the years. Especially the scorn heaped by the likes of aunty bleeb on the clubs transfer policy, when famous stars from the Bleeb like Lord Sugar are happy to declare “Wenger knows the market”, it’s not like he’s ever run a football club, I mention no names, or anything like that.

    It’s all enough to make one scratch one’s Arsenal in complete bafflement.

  16. Re that Tottenham statement:

    “This now therefore involves the Club moving away from the Lane during construction for a period of one season, to start at the beginning of a season in order to comply with Premier League rules.

    We are currently undertaking due diligence on alternative stadium options.”

    Groundshare with you Gooners anyone? 😉 (Doffs tin hat and dives for cover…)

  17. M18CTID
    I don’t think AFC need the money, or the company. I also don’t think the tinies would feel comfortable moving into London from the Middlesex Marshes. No tin hat or foil required.

    If you’ve been following Untold then I think you will be aware of who spent approx. four times as much on their new stadium, built at the same time as AFC (and also the scaled down knock off in Manchester that is now home for the Arsenal B team) and therefore an obvious candidate who is in desperate need of cash for some unknown reason: yes indeed ladies and gentleman we have an obvious candidate: the bankrupt (in more ways then one) English FA and their home, Wembley Stadium. I’ll be surprised I it doesn’t happen.

  18. Or:

    As @kickarseHD said:

    “You’re telling me you spent £26M to buy Soldado but couldn’t buy a sheet metal factory in Tottenham”

    It’s too funny. And then you remember that Tottenham spent almost as much on Bentley several years ago as that which Arsenal spent on Danny Welbeck, last week.

  19. Finsbury,

    I’m sure you know it was a tongue in cheek suggestion mate 😉

    I think Wembley seems the most plausible solution for them. Somehow I get the impression that “highly unlikely” for the 2017/18 season doesn’t necessarily mean it will be ready in time for the 2018/19 season. I reckon it could be 2019 or 2020 even before it’s ready.

  20. M18CTID
    I just can’t pass by the opportunity to remind the Tinies of their distant connections with London town.

    It’s going to be some game here in North London (not Middlesex*) on Saturday. Can’t wait.

    *one option for Tottenham could be the hire of the nursery pitch at Lord’s, home of Middlesex cricket. If the MCC let them in. All is not lost.

  21. A WOMAN was flying from Melbourne to Brisbane …
    Unexpectedly, the plane was diverted to Sydney.
    The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft the plane would re-board in 50 minutes..

    Everybody got off the plane except one lady who was blind.
    A man had noticed her as he walked by and could tell the lady was blind because her Seeing Eye Dog lay quietly underneath the seats in front of her throughout the entire flight.
    He could also tell she had flown this very flight before because the pilot approached her, and calling her by name, said, ‘Kathy, we are in Sydney for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?’

    The blind lady replied, ‘No thanks, but maybe Max would Like to stretch his legs.’

    Picture this:

    All the people in the gate area came to a complete standstill when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane with a Seeing Eye dog!
    The pilot was even wearing sunglasses.
    People scattered.
    They not only tried to change planes, but they were trying to change airlines!
    True story…
    Have a great day and remember…


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