It’s FFP time again and Liverpool are being investigated

By Tony Attwood 

The name “Untold” was chosen deliberately for this blog in 2008, because I felt that huge amounts of news and information on football was simply not reaching the light of day through the existing newspaper, broadcast and blog outlets.  I think I had a bit of a thought at the time that after I’d launched the concepts of rotational fouling and rotational time-wasting I might find some interesting “untolds” along the way.

Of course the biggest area of work has been Walter’s revelations about referees, but there have been other bits and pieces along the way, plus the work on the fixing of the transfer market, the use of football for money laundering and so on.

And these days none of these areas is more interesting from my point of view that FFP.

It is not just that my insights and guesses have proved to be right (for a change) but the way in which fans of clubs that teeter on the edge – or indeed go over the edge – of Uefa’s financial regulations react.

The vitriol and bile from Man City fans last season which turned up when I was suggesting not just that they were guilty of breaking FFP rules but why they then could not and would not reply to Uefa, was amazing.  I was reminded of little children who when caught red handed stealing a piece of chocolate that they’d been told not to touch just deny everything, despite all the evidence.

But when all the world was not running the story, we got it right, and it looks like we are here again with the issue of Liverpool and FFP.  Quite a few of the papers are not covering the story, and some have even put the story up, and then within a few hours taken it down again.

What is going on?

Of course I am going to come unstuck at some point, but for the moment the Untold FFP Investigation and Prediction Dept is looking good and I am going  to keep going a while longer.

Liverpool go into FFP with a bit of a poor reputation.  Their owner might have thought that openly boasting at a major football conference about how he wrong-footed Arsenal by lying about the nature of the Suarez contract, showed how big and bold he was.  But it is the sort of thing Uefa notice – and they tend to think along the lines of, “well, we caught him lying here, so can we believe him there?”

The club has been on a spend, spend, spend, campaign, and their transfer of Suarez to Barcelona just at the moment that Barcelona were desperate to buy anyone they could before their latest round of denials over the breach of the child trafficking rules comes to court, has not gone down well.  Yes Liverpool did nothing wrong with that deal – but it was exactly the deal Uefa didn’t want to see, just while they are trying to bring Barcelona to book.

We also have the issue of the Suarez racial slur on Evra and the way the club handled that.  It wasn’t impressive.

Anyway I took a punt that their latest wheeze would be to suggest that they could set aside the money spent by their previous American owners on stadia development (the one that never happened) could be used as an excluded cost for FFP, because it was infrastructure development.

It is a clever ploy, and one that I am told Liverpool are indeed using.   And the issue is simple.  Does it matter whether the infrastructure was developed or ever likely to be developed or not?  If this gets through then it drives a hole into FFP and Uefa are going to have to change the rules again (as they have already done several times)>

But at least Liverpool are being investigated by UEFA for possible breaches of their financial fair play rules, as Uefa have reported today, and most of the British press have chosen to ignore – or, as I say, curiously publish the story and then withdraw it.

Liverpool, Monaco, Inter Milan and Roma are the clubs being looked at.  All were l absent from European competition last season and have now submitted accounts to UEFA — and are being asked to “fill in the gaps” as they say at Uefa, or “for further information about their finances” as is said in the press releases.

If the problems seem serious and any of the clubs don’t co-operate fully then the first step will be the withholding of this season’s Champions League money.

In the last year or two Liverpool have been going on a bit of a binge in buying players and hanging on to them.  The process was very successful on the pitch last season, but less so in the very early days of this season.

The problem is that although the club has been spending it is not clear where the money is coming from.   And as we’ve reported before from May 2015 the FFP test will be tougher with the permitted deficit being measured over three seasons (2011/12 to 2013/14).

Apart from Champions League money Liverpool have some problems raising more cash.  Commercial revenues have risen, and it is not clear if they will go further and there is a cash flow demand over the stadium building programme, unless the money is all coming in from outside.   Liverpool were owned by the now bankrupt Royal Bank of Scotland for a long time, and the interest rates that they have to pay are higher than institutions like Arsenal that have never been bankrupted in the last 100 years.

And simultaneously they have to satisfy the banks that they can meet the bank loans on the new stadium at the same time.  And it is always possible that their bank manager might actually read about Rodgers’ spend spend spend plans.

Now there are of course many that say this is all ok, because TV revenue is rising and Liverpool is in the Champs League so the money is rolling in.  But all the time wages and transfer fees are rising and as long as Man City are allowed to rampage free, salaries and fees will grow and grow and grow.   So all that extra TV money isn’t there to make Liverpool break even – it is going to be soaked up by the rebuilt stadium project (the banks having been brought to their knees by Liverpool FC last time around will absolutely not loan money for the development of New Anfield without seeing where the money is coming from).

Worse they have to do it all again next season, and we have to remember that by 2015/16 there is no exclusion of players signed before June 2010, and the deficit is reduced to 30m euros over three (not two) seasons.  Here again that Rodgers approach just won’t cut it.

Which is why Liverpool were so desperate for Man City to get away with their approach of ignoring FFP.

As recently as last spring Henry said, “We really don’t have Financial Fair Play, or at least people are not abiding by it.  I’d love to think that Uefa can do and will do what needs to be done, but we’ll see.”

Indeed, we’ll see.


Due to a technical error (my cock up) this article was published in note form briefly.  I think I’ve now sorted it.

31 Replies to “It’s FFP time again and Liverpool are being investigated”

  1. Why don’t you worry about your own club instead? If Liverpool have breached the rules then I’m sure UFEA will do something about it.

  2. Interesting reading, sounds like they might have to sell Sterling after all…..and not spend all they receive for him and more this time.
    As for the UK press reporting anything that may be even slightly critical of Liverpool…..not a chance, Liverpool are a national treasure and so is their manager. Such reporting would be almost treasonable. The media tell us St Stevie is a one club man who never ever…ever had any interest in leaving….if you repeat that often enough, it almost rings true!

  3. Incredibly uninformed piece of slander. Not even worth refuting but it must be said the lies told on this trashy hit job represent the worst form of tribalism and nouveau internet hooliganism. So ridiculously inaccurate I would be concerned for the writer if LFC had any interest in perusing libel action. If the piece displayed any intelligence it would be scary but at this level it’s just pathetic.

  4. Expect a lot of abuse as well as being said to be fixated with Liverpool.

    I think they were bound to be in some kind of trouble, spending so much on players without champions league football. I thought that spending spree was a one off under Kenny but they’ve gone on and done it again this summer with Rodgers. Perhaps Henry will find this time, FFP, unlike football contracts ‘which don’t seem to hold’, is a different ball game altogether.

  5. Cou,

    I wonder, if it’s not worth you refuting the article, why would LFC be interested in paying expensive lawyers lots of money to sue for libel?

    Surely with all your eloquence, you could manage to correct the author on even one point?

    Given that many people will read this article, surely we deserve to be informed of the truth?

  6. If Liverpool would follow the suggestion of Cou to open cases against websites reporting this they will have a heck of a job. Including some serious websites outside England. 🙂

    But of course Cou who seems to know it all could make an attempt to inform us ignorant souls. Just saying it is not correct is a bit easy Cou. At least if you want our attention.

  7. myleftball
    September 25, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    And what exactly is your business on Arsenal blog??? have you not got your own to make you happy about how you going to get around FFP and any other underhand business your club (as well as a few others are involved with)?

  8. I don’t think LFC would have any interest in pursuing-I made that clear in my comment. Take a deep breath and read.

    As far as refuting-I’ll start with the nonsense about Liverpool being “desperate” for City to get away with their FFP breach. If you were remotely informed on the subject you would know that John Henry has spearheaded an effort-along with the Arsenal board-to insure that FFP is indeed implemented.

    To pick one doozy from your piece-“The problem is that although the club has been spending it is not clear where the money is coming from. ” Laughable statement. You do realize that Premier League clubs report their accounts yearly don’t you? Furthermore they have an outside firm audit themselves in preparation for FFP scrutiny. Arsenal does this. Liverpool does this. City does it and so do every other league club in England.

    I could go on but why bother right? It will just descend into tribalistic nouveau Internet hooliganism-like this innuendo based fantasy piece.

  9. Hahahaha……wow! I’m really enjoying “Cou”. It’s so simple… can on behalf of Loserpool FC, sue “Untold”. If you can’t then just catch ur breath and wait for the outcome of Uefa’s FFP investigation.

  10. Cou,
    I had no intention of commenting until i read your second comment. Are you telling us that clubs that are failing ffp do not have acountants? Failing ffp is not an accounting isdue but management issue.

    When tony talks about where the money liverpool spent on players came from he is not implying that it was stolen or those were off balancesheet transactions. He is implying that the purchases may not have been funded by income generated by the club.

  11. There are two really interesting things re Liverpool & FFP

    First is that the £50 million that was spent on the abortive stadium development happened before the current owners turned up. Indeed the money was written off in 2010/11 when their Chief Exec said ” Its a big loss and a big write off, but it means that its gone forever.

    The first year in the current FFP monitoring period is 2011/12 one year on from the write off and way after the expense was incurred

    The second interesting thing is that the 2011/12 accounts only covered a 10 month period.

    Liverpool’s argument will be probably be that as the loss only reflected 10 months a 12 month period would have meant an even bigger than reported loss and as a result the 2012/13 would have been less.

    They have to win that argument for only if they do will they be able to discount wage paid to players whose contract pre date 2010.

    Irrespective they will exceed the trigger point where losses are ignored meaning that money put in by FSG will have to be converted from loans to equity.

  12. Mike T. You are one of the few non-Arsenal supporters whose comments I actually enjoy. You always seem to be well informed. You always present facts in an orderly and intelligent manner. Those other assholes just spew their fucking bullshit and propaganda without any facts or data to back it up. Too bad your club’s owner and manager lack the intelligence, demeanor, and class that you have. You are much too decent to be lumped together with that rabble. If you ever decide to leave the dark side, I am sure the Untold Arsenal family would gladly welcome you.

  13. I hope liverpool fall foul but i expect them to be able to discount failed stadium expansion costs. I agree with the article regarding pre 2011 wages

  14. I am surprised and find it unfortunate that more was not made of Liverpools possible failure but i dont think articles where pulled. And the people who should be upset about this are City fans not Arsenal fans

  15. @ Bill

    You tease !

    After my family football is my other true love. I read a massive amount and have quite a good memory so quite often something said today stirs something in the back of my memory.

    As for supporting Arsenal I will pass on that for my support of Chelsea pre dates the owner, the manager, the players etc etc. As for being on the dark side I thought you knew I supported Chelsea and not Spurs

    Going back to the topic it is now being reported on the radio and whist articles in the Liverpool Echo are quoting sources at the club as saying there isn’t a problem. I guess they would wouldn’t they!

  16. Tony

    Your article and similar is the reason I read this blog from my refuge in Canada. I don’t always agree with comments etc but at least it is an intelligent and well presented slant on sports. Most sports reporting is akin to ‘People ‘magazine tripe. Those that disagree with your thoughts could at least have the courtesy of a reasoned rebuttal.
    Of course if it all goes pear shaped on Saturday I might revert to my tribal savagery og many years ago on the north bank

  17. Liverpool fell foul of FFP for buying crap players. At least city bought quality, and if they won’t be allowed to spend for next two to three years they’ll still have a solid squad 🙂

  18. Any investigation would need to be aware of the sense of pride that Henry and Rodgers have exhibited in their ability to be very economical with the truth.

  19. Cou………it will never descend into your so-called ¨tribalistic nouveau Internet hooliganism¨ IF you are willing to defend your opinions with hard facts and like a gentleman (or gentle-lady) write in a respectful and open-minded manner, something you failed to do very well in your first post. None of us know what is actually happening or being planned by our respective Clubs so whatever you state is speculative at best, based on what you read and hear from various sources, unless you have direct insight and secure sources inside Liverpool’s boardroom?
    We all love Football, the sanctity of its traditions and the spirit of the Beautiful Game, Tony as much as anyone. I personally like Liverpool but not everything the Club does, (same for the Arsenal)but I don’t go on other Club’s sites calling posters ¨tribalistic nouveau Internet hooligans¨ and if i do post on other sites, I make sure that my criticism is constructive and respects good Internet netiquette regardless of where I am…..try doing the same next time please,mate……

  20. omgarsenal
    September 25, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Wise words that could only come out of an Arsenal supporters’ mind 🙂


    An Indonesian judge by the name of Marzuki was sitting in judgment of an old lady who pleaded guilty of stealing some tapioca from a plantation.
    In her defense, the old lady admitted to the Judge that she was indeed guilty of the crime because she was poor and her son was sick while her grandchild was hungry.
    The plantation manager insisted that she be punished as a deterrent to others.
    The judge going through the documents then looked up and said to the old lady, “I’m sorry but I cannot make any exception to the Law and you must be punished accordingly”.
    The old lady was fined Rp.1 million (USD 100) and if she could not pay the fine then she will be jailed for 2 1/2 years as demanded by the Law.
    She wept as she could not pay the fine.
    The Judge then took her hat and put in Rp.100,000 into the hat and said, “In the name of justice, I fine all present in the Court @ Rp.50,000 (USD 5.50) each as dwellers of this City for letting a child starve until her grandmother is compelled to steal to feed her grandchild. The Registrar will now collect the fines from all present.”
    The Court managed to collect Rp 3.5 million (USD 350) including the fine collected from the plantation manager, whereby the fine was paid off and the rest was given to the old lady!

  22. @Cou

    I have no idea what “tribalistic nouveau Internet hooliganism” means. I’m intrigued.

    For what is is worth I dont know why @Tony bothers with these posts anymore. Not becuase I dont find them interesting and informative..I do but becuase of the grief he gets. Would that be “tribalistic nouveau Internet hooliganism” grief? Just a guess.

  23. GoonerS. He does it because youre not the only one interested and it generates clicks! But primarily it is to demonstrate how the clubs we are competing with are breaking the rules

  24. While I have much better things to do on a Friday afternoon (such as watching the Ryder Cup and bemoaning Lancashire County Cricket Club’s relegation to the second division), and don’t really wish to get embroiled in another row on here about FFP, it’s important to note that the owner of any website has a responsibility not to post comments that are potentially libellous. I’m sure that Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, QPR, and Leicester have far more important things to deal with than suing Tony Attwood but he has posted wildly inaccurate information about all those 5 clubs in the past few months while passing it off as fact without, to my knowledge, ever offering a retraction when rival fans of those clubs point out his mistakes.

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