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Manchester City mocking UEFA and it's "Financial Fair Play" rule?

Jasjeev Singh
Editor's Pick
960   //    10 Jul 2011, 01:37 IST

To be honest , when I first read about the new deal City went through with in renaming Eastlands to the now more commercialized and funded “Etihad Stadium” , I could’nt help but wonder how UEFA can still prevent the so called Richer clubs (yes , with a capital R) in making an utter mockery out of them and their new Fair play ruling scheme.

In fairness City agreeing to a £400m deal with Etihad Airways, never came as a major surprise to anyone for that matter, leave alone the football fraternity as it was merely a way to get around the unworkable regulations, between two companies that are owned by the same people, so in effect are almost paying themselves, whilst making a mockery of UEFA, safe in the knowledge that they haven`t broken any rules, and it is almost impossible to judge the deal as being in breach of the ruling, because the figures, not only include, the renaming of Eastlands, but is also to include shirt sponsorship, plus naming rights for the new training complex.

Having posted a loss of £121 million in accounts for the financial year ending May 2010, the injection of funds from Etihad – also City’s shirt sponsors – will enable the club to move closer to falling in line with the FFP strictures, which could see team’s barred from European competition if they post losses in excess of €45 million (£40 million) during a three-year monitoring period which commences at the start of the 2011-12 season. So in effect , this deal will help nullify the losses they incur and basically sidetrack the new FFP regulations and use the loophole to it’s best possible effect. Can I see other clubs doing that possibly? Yes , I can. Which leaves me to question the other aspect relating to the topic which is how important it is to delve into the financial aspect of it and forget how important the history and the naming of the stadium is. For example , can you see an Old trafford being renamed just so that they can over-ride the impending debt? Definately not.

The newly rechristened "Eastlands"

My feeling is that the UEFA regulations are unrestrictable to anyone who wants to bypass them. Can you honestly imagine City and Chelsea for example, embracing the restrictions to it’s fullest possible extent?? The signs point a different story. Add others such as Barcelona and Real Madrid to the mix, on top of many more clubs with owners of huge independent wealth and you know it is destined to fail or at least see the Platini and Co. turning a blind eye to the elite’s riding roughshod over them, as we always knew they would, simply because they can.

Uefa has made it clear in guidelines for FFP that commercial deals which appear artificially inflated could contravene regulations, but it is understood that City’s deal does not fall into this category.Arsenal’s deal with Emirates over the naming of the club’s new stadium at Ashburton Grove in Oct 2004 was valued at £100 million over 15 years, a figure which also included an eight-year shirt sponsorship worth about £6 million a year.The growth of the Premier League since that deal was struck, however, ensure that similar agreements are now potentially much more lucrative. It is not known whether City’s shirt sponsorship deal with Etihad, worth £2.3 million a year, has been renegotiated to fall in line with the stadium naming deal.

I personally can’t see UEFA taking any serious action or even looking into the FFP rules , let alone try and modify to suit a more global and rational cause. The likes of  ManCity, Barca, Madrid or any major side that attracts sponsors to its competitions can have it their way and use endorsements to a certain level and help stay in the green area of the scheme, but you could easily see them looking at someone like a  Wigan, because they would be seen to be brandishing a big stick. Also does anyone really believe that players couldn’t be paid, by third, sixth or even ninth party company, either by way of sponsorship or even the odd oil field or two? At what point does a payment become illegal, if it’s based on some form of endorsement? We only have to look at the money generated by some of the greats in sport, such as Beckham and Tiger Woods to understand that their sporting earnings pale into insignificance compared to the money earned outside the sporting arena.

Do Platini and UEFA need stricter regulations?

Football has always had the haves and have not’s. Would Blackburn have won the title without the money from Jack Walker? So are City any different, aside from having far greater wealth? My personal feeling is that, football will always have differing scales and as long as expenditure doesn’t place the long term viability of the club at risk, should we worry? If for example Joe Lewis were to fund a 500 million investment for Tottenham, we should only worry, if that sum becomes a club debt, as we saw at Liverpool or even United. In the cases of City and Chelsea and no doubt many others, the debts are cleared by the sugar daddy, so the club isn’t suffering, despite on paper losing tens or even hundreds on million a year.

It may not be right and certainly doesn’t offer any sort of level playing field, but has there ever been one of football or many other sports for that matter? I done believe there is any way of actually making UEFA’s FFP ruling work for all parties and although I have admiration for them wanting to make the game financial stable, which still has to be the case.

This will only work with the average club that doesn’t have rich benefactors unless they totally embrace parity amongst all teams, but we all know that when it comes to turnovers, 50% of £300m is on a totally different planet to 50% of £50m, so we will always see the rich and not so rich, but should we care, just as long as the clubs are shielded from carrying huge long term debt?

In so many ways, I feel fans would prefer to see clubs retain their identity by not naming grounds after sponsors and we all know that a club being prefixed by a sponsor`s name is just around the corner. It has already happened elsewhere, but you only need one club to do it and the rest will follow. Samsung Chelsea? Etihad Manchester City? Autonomy Spurs? You know it can and probably will happen and is this just about greed within the game or one fall-out from UEFA`s enforcing their financial restrictions of football?? Fans will argue on the matter and how “Old Trafford” will always remain Old Trafford , but after hearing John. W Henry’s comments on their new stadium plans , more Clubs could be on their way in renaming and cashing in on the money.

If UEFA need to have any sort of parity between the have and the have not’s and not see clubs like City and Malaga abuse their Spending power? The new FFP rules need to revamped and looked into , fixing a limit and the sources which would be classifed as a “legal” and appropriate source of revenue and not buying back using , practically your own money and funding it in , indirectly.

Jasjeev Singh
An 18 year old die hard Spurs fan. A complete sports buff and follows pretty much every single sport , having a little extra passion for football though.
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