Is it me, or is there always some sort of pattern of shuffled feet when it comes to football governing bodies? Everyone knows the English FA twiddles their thumbs on matters as if they were getting paid to do so (see what I did there?), and don’t get much of anyone started on the ridiculousness that FIFA has been accustomed to doing. But don’t worry everyone, there is a new contender in the race for “let’s get this done years after it actually should have, and even though we are doing it now, let’s not do enough”, enter UEFA into the competition.
This whole guff about Financial Fair Play (otherwise known as, naturally, FFP) in theory is sound. The basic rhetoric is pretty simple; if your annual accounts and financial projections show that you have lost more than the amount allowed per the rules, then sanctions will be brought upon the club, and those sanctions can vary depending on a case by case basis (FFP explained in full here) – as such, UEFA have thrown a 60million pound fine on Manchester City, as well as dropping their squad size for Champions League to 21 down from the usual 23. A good first step? No, not really and let’s see what Sam (Twitter: @SamuelEchelon) thinks about the punishment put it in the simplest of terms;
“Breaking FFP rules is cheating. Cheating should be harshly punished. Punishing a rich club with financial sanctions is rather pointless”
Couldn’t have said it better myself Sam old boy, couldn’t have said it better myself.
As everyone knows that City are owned by Sheikh Mansour, member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi, deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, but most importantly, Mansoor is the head of International Petroleum Investment Company which happens to own a 71% stake in Aabar Investments - the pair of them are used as investment vehicles in a wide range of global interests, including sports.
Despite his impressive business portfolio, Mansoor is sitting on a personal wealth of $31.5 billion – aren’t we the lucky one. To present the last piece of the puzzle, the estimated family wealth to which he is attached, is in the region of $500 billion (excuse me while I become friends with this man) – and now we all understand why fining City is basically a waste of time and effort. But to be simple about it, Mansoor can easily front the bill for City because there is no defined rule that says he cannot. As per the explanation of FFP above, it states that a club can be fined if their losses on the year exceed a certain amount if the owner does or does not inject equity. Injecting equity into squad or club investment is one thing, but Mansoor fitting the bill is entirely different – let’s be honest, 60million pounds to someone who’s personal wealth is in excess of $30 billion is chump change.
This entire scenario really does accentuate the fact that financial sanctions to a rich club truthfully mean nothing at the end of the day, especially a rich club with an owner who treats it like its Fantasy Premier League. Many fans are calling for transfer window embargo’s on clubs that break the rules (PSG and Zenit St. Petersburg are clubs that have also breached the rules), but would that do anything either? Go on, take a look at the rosters of City and PSG, the damage has been done. Even if City and PSG could not buy a single player for a year or two, it would no longer matter at that point given the fact that they both just won their respective domestic titles – City for the second time in three seasons and PSG for two years running now.
Truthfully, what is needed here are tougher sanctions for first time offenders – a better deterrent may just stop the trend all together. Take Champions League away from the offending club if they did qualify and if they didn’t, ban them the next time they do qualify unless they get their financial picture in better standing. Also, a domestic points deduction would be in order as well – leave no stone unturned if you ask me.
It is also ridiculous to note that UEFA struck the following deal with City (information from the tweeter of David Conn; @david_conn);
Uefa agreement: if City comply with reduced squad, wages capped to current level & get v close to break-even in 2014 & 15, fine will be €20m
What? So, what they have just done here, was tell City, or any other club for that matter, that it’s okay to shatter the rule book in one felled swoop, but as long as they are good the next year or two it’s okay and they will show mercy with their judgement moving forward. Basically you are giving rich clubs a one-off opportunity to go all out with their spending, completely and utterly obliterate their financials but then right the ship after that and they will face a less fine. Well in that time frame, they would have been able to build a squad with a fantastic set of players and potentially but themselves on course for domestic success – ridiculous. To discuss slightly further before we conclude, capping the wages at their current level isn’t much a deterrent at all either – if City want to bring in a player, all they would have to do is either release players from their contracts or sell a player or two if it means they could bring in yet another star player that they covet.
Simply put, this is not nearly enough, and while I do not expect everyone to agree on this one really, if you ask me, the simple solution here is a harsher punishment across the board for the first time offender – it’s the simple solution to deter clubs and their ownership for breaking the rules in the first place.