by Tony Attwood
It has taken a long time to get there, but Uefa has let it be known that Paris Saint-Germain is still under investigation for breaches of the financial fair play rules that some of us had assumed had been buried in a box marked “don’t open under any circumstances or the rich and powerful might get uppity”.
Part of the reason is that PSG is funded by Qatar, and Fifa are doing everything to keep Qatar sweet ahead of the world cup. But it has been reported that PSG is receiving €120m a year from the Qatar Tourism Authority. But a rarely used part of the FFP regulations says that sponsorship funding must be at a “fair value” – meaning oil rich countries can’t just make up numbers of dollars and throw them at a club.
What seems to have made Uefa all the more uppity on this deal is the fact that PSG paid €229m for Neymar and arranged an extraordinary €183m deal for Mbappé to be completed this summer after a loan this past season from Monaco. That second deal looks extremely odd in itself; why would Monaco “loan” their best player to their rivals for a season? The fact that PSG beat Monaco 7-1 at the weekend suggests that the whole loan notion was a farce – a way to get a player but spread the cost back one year.
Here’s the French league table. Mind the gap(s).
It does take quite something to get all the normal abusers of FFP regulations together complaining about an upstart outsider, but that is what happened in this case. Javier Tebas, the president of La Liga, said he would complain to Uefa – and interestingly not only about PSG but also about Manchester City, which of course is owned by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family.
Uefa has been quiet on the Manchester City spending, not least because it is waiting to see what on earth has caused the long delays in the Court of Arbitration in Sport case involving Manchester City. This has been the most delayed case in the course of CAS history, and the reasons for the delay have still not been made clear. The issue, which we have covered here several times as it has dragged on and on and on, centres on the signing of Benjamin Garre and whether it was a legal transfer or child trafficking.
What makes the case so curious is that the claim for the defence is that the rules are clear, and there was nothing wrong with the transfer. Yet this has turned into the longest case ever. It will be fascinating to know why – if CAS actually lets us know – but history shows that some of their rulings come with very little explanation as to what their thinking was.
If found guilty, Man City will most likely get a two window transfer ban, but will then probably appeal so that they can go on a major spending spree this summer and then sit out a transfer ban for next January and hope the appeal knocks the ban down to one window. But Fifa has been frustrated by the way that Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid have all used the same child trafficking tactics and got their sentences reduced enabling them to avoid suffering any pain from such a sanction, and Fifa have threatened to stop this ploy.
Mind you if Man City do get stopped completely they could raise some extra case via payday loans uk direct lenders. So I don’t think they are going to run out of money completely. And anyway what is curious here is that Fifa found in favour of Manchester City’s view that Garre was over 16 and could join the club once he was 16, because of the law that says that EU nationals can move to another EU country at 16. The age rule is 18 for the rest of the world but the EU’s freedom of movement rules mean that it is treated as a single country within this legal framework.
Vélez, the club making the complaint, say that the rules only apply with 16 and 17 year olds move between one EU country and another – it is a destination to destination exemption, not a passport exemption. It is presumably the issue of getting a ruling from the EU on its own interpretation of its law that has caused the excessive delay for CAS.
And it is interesting too that delays have continued to expand – it was at one time announced that the result of the case would be made known last month – yet once again this was put back. And both Manchester City and Vélez have the right to appeal the result.
Plus there is another (admittedly smaller) shadow on the horizon. If PSG are found guilty of receiving inflated and/or “related party” sponsorships that opens the gates to an investigation on the sponsorship of Manchester City.
Currently FFP restricts clubs to losses of €30m over three seasons, with the usual exclusions of stadium development, youth academy costs and the like. And funding has to be reasonable – which is where PSG are coming unstuck.
What happened in that deal was that Uefa got an independent marketing company to give a fair market value on the Qatar deal with PSG, and came in with a very much lower figure. So PSG now face sanctions, and it seems Uefa don’t want to look at the sponsorship of other clubs such as at Manchester City, until the PSG case has run its course.
PSG dismissed as “totally false” a report in the (generally highly accurate) Financial Times that the deal with Qatar “significantly overstated” the true worth of the arrangement.
The FT also quoted one person close to the investigation as saying, “The big question, clearly, is will Uefa be brave enough to enforce their own rules? If not for PSG then frankly why bother?”