The whole football system seems to exist only to protect and enlarge itself

By Tony Attwood

The Premier League has said it will take action in the Manchester City case if any of its rules have been broken.  Uefa (now under new management since the Manchester City scandal was initiated) has said that it could go back and look again at the 2014 FFP investigation.  This is a step forward from the opening response of not being able to comment because of documents exchanged in confidence. But I am still doubtful.

There are grounds to believe that previous information supplied by clubs was not fair and accurate, and so that justifies breaking any confidentiality clauses.  Interestingly, Uefa has also re-stated its belief in FFP, saying that it had been a success.

But as yet no club has called for sanctions against PSG or Manchester City, although PSG is already under investigation, and they in turn have gone to the Court of Arbitration in Sport, and La Liga has now formally asked Uefa to investigate Manchester City.

And to add to the drama and Football Leaks website is saying that it has a load more documents that it has obtained legitimately.  Plus we now have information about companies based in the British Virgin Islands (a notorious tax haven) which have been involved allegedly in among other things paying money to Roberto Mancini via an offshore account.

La Liga representatives have also said that the league will complain to the EU Commission if Uefa does not take action against Manchester City and PSG.  Customs and Excise in the UK is looking at the situation on the basis that Manchester City is involved in a tax avoidance scheme.

However all the posturing does not mean these actions will take place, and indeed many won’t, because in the end only one action is needed to bring the pack of cards down.  And there is also the fact that at the same time as these leaks are coming out we have the stories of the new 16 team super league playing in Europe outside of the controls of the existing competition organisers.

It is also true that as part of its punishment four years ago Manchester City had its list of registered players who could play in the Champions League reduced.  This could happen again, although how effective a reduction from say 25 to 19 is as a punishment is hard to say.

However it is within the power of Uefa to ban Manchester City and/or PSG from the Champions League or Europa League for a year or more.  That has been done in the past to various clubs for different offences, and might cause Manchester City to pause and think. Although a ban of one year is not likely to have much effect.  They would presumably go out and set up their own competition.

But whatever happens we can then expect the two accused clubs to fight back in the courts – which is of course what Manchester City has threatened in the emails claiming it could tie Uefa up in legal knots until it ran out of money and gave in.   The cases would challenge the legitimacy of the EU rules on sport as an area of activity that is governed by completely separate business rules from the rest of enterprise.

However laws can be changed, and if the EU felt that its own laws were under attack from non-european bodies such as the owners of PSG and Manchester City, they could get the laws changed.  Although the EU moves slowly in such matters I suspect it might speed itself up a bit if it found itself under attack.

Of course another thing that could happen (although knowing the way football changes this is unlikely) is a wholesale change of rules in football in order to bring football back under the control of the nation in which the club is based.   This situation has been weakened a lot by having billionaires of foreign nationality owning football clubs like Arsenal.

One step was taken in this direction with the decision of the British government to revoke the business visa of the owner of Chelsea.  Such moves could be expanded. That would change the whole drift of the Premier League into being the plaything of the wealthy from overseas.

Certainly something has to give.  As the Guardian said recently, “PSG, [Manchester] City and their royal patrons, deploying a combination of titanic legal budgets, threat, pressure and enticement, escaped serious scrutiny or consequence, a process that was facilitated by Gianni Infantino, then the general secretary of Uefa, who bent over backwards to “reinterpret” FFP in their favour. This man is now the president of Fifa, at the very head of the whole rotten fish, where he is busy undermining Fifa’s own ethics committee, and trying to sell new global tournaments to Saudi Arabian investors.”

What does seem  to be revealed here by the seemingly endless revelations is that the system is utterly broken, and the checks and balances are non-existent.  If an organisation has enough money it will get its own way, and some of the organisations and individuals owning football clubs now have enough money.

So to go back to the start, the question is, who will take action?    I think in the short term it really has to be Uefa, whose ex-president has clearly betrayed it by helping Manchester City and PSG beat Uefa’s own rules.  (And yes I despair of the fact that I am pinning my hopes on Uefa of all organisations, but then, who else is there?)

But let us remember, the person within Uefa who made all this happen (not allowed all this to happen but made all this happen) is now in charge of Fifa which all countries bow down to in a desperate attempt to get into the world cup finals.

What is actually needed (but I think we are a long way from seeing this) is for the whole edifice of international and national organisation and control to come tumbling down.  For let us not forget that the FA and the Premier League have happily allowed Manchester City to do what they have done, and the Ligue de Football Professionnel has allowed PSG to do its thing in France.

And that’s the problem.  The whole system is rotten, but its resolve to protect itself is as strong as ever.


7 Replies to “The whole football system seems to exist only to protect and enlarge itself”

  1. “a process that was facilitated by Gianni Infantino, then the general secretary of Uefa, who bent over backwards to “reinterpret” FFP in their favour”

    This as: –

    “Manchester City realised with the scrutiny and development of FFP they would potentially fall foul of UEFA so invited UEFA into the club to advise Manchester City how they could comply. With this assistance Manchester City published their accounts which complied with the FFP guidelines. In the weeks which followed UEFA changed the rules behind FFP to ensure Manchester City’s published accounts no longer complied with FFP and were fined.”

    That’s why City threatened to drag them through the courts and rightly so.

    As going forward and how UEFA have treated City as a whole over the years, I can see this either ending up tied up in Court, or just going away.

  2. FFP was hijacked by the G14 clubs and used to keep their position at the top table. It’s quite ridiculous to stop an owner from investing in his own club. FFP, originally, was brought in to stop clubs spending what they haven’t got. Man City have no debt, they don’t owe Sheikh Mansour a penny and if he were to leave, it would take another very rich person to buy them.
    Having to think of different ways of putting your own money into your own club because of some jumped up rules the G14 gangsters dreamt up is just plain wrong.

  3. The rules of FFP specifically allow owners to put as much money as they like (whatever the original source of that money) into their clubs as long as it doesn’t go into the first team squad where it could damage the overall competition for which sponsors and TV companies pay so much for access. A skewed competition lessens its appeal globally and everyone suffers as a result.
    if a club (for instance) breaks the rules by making undeclared payments to its manager then it is guilty of tax avoidance and in breach of FFP.

  4. The sole purpose of FFP was, and is, to keep the G14 clubs in the dominant positions they had enjoyed for years. In order to do this, it should be noted that, the owners of these clubs regularly used their own money to further their clubs position. Louis Edwards of manu being a prime example when they bought Denis law.
    The fact is that, FFP contravenes the EU’s competition laws which specifically bans any rule or law which prevents a company director(s) investing their own money in their company. This was fully recognised by UEFA when PSG and City told them that they’d rather spend the money of the proposed fines, on legal teams to fight the charges against them and why UEFA backed down and reduced their “fines” to a level both clubs were prepared to accept. The clubs being prepared to accept these fines in order to keep the peace with UEFA.
    It has been suggested that the EU could change the law or introduce new ones which, would allow they or UEFA to reinvestigate/charge PSG and City. This can never happen as Laws and changes to them cannot be retrospective as this could and would cause chaos not only regarding FFP but any other laws a country/affiliation (The EU)may decide to change.
    FFP is a pernicious law, brought in not to improve football or protect anyone but the then elite clubs. Just look at the leagues around Europe, Juventus have won serie A for the last 7 years, since the 2004/5 season La Liga has been won by Barca or Real in all but one season, in the last 6 years PSG have won Ligue 1, 5 times, Bayern have won the Bundesliga for the last 6 years. Now the Prem, in that time, has been won by 5 different clubs, 3 of them being funded by mega rich owners, Chelsea, Man City and Leicester. None of which would/could have happened had FFP been rigidly applied when Abramovich appeared on the scene.
    So for the Prem, the fact that those 3 clubs have managed to “circumnavigate” FFP, has brought healthy competition and, made the Prem the most widely viewed and exciting league in the world.

  5. ‘Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness.
    Listen to it carefully.’

    -Richard Bach
    (Illusions : The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah0

  6. ‘Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully.’

    With regard to City’s owners ploughing their own/their countries money into their club, I have absolutely no problem with that. It goes on in every business/company in the world and, is the way in which companies have been managed since time immemorial.

    If you are referring to their civil rights record then I do have concerns however, I am pragmatic enough to realise my individual protest or anyones personal protest will have no effect whatsoever, even if thousands of those individuals band together and march/protest ’til the cows come home. Change will come about by countries taking action, as was the case with apartheid in South Africa. The fly in that ointment being the wealth of Abu Dhabi, and their investmets into so many countries and purchases from those countries.

  7. LOL Heavy Riffs… so let us get this right. Infatino changed the rules so City would not comply and then Infantino bend the rules so City would comply??????? That is what you are actually saying.

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