It looks as if Milan will be excluded from Europe after they were refused both a voluntary and settlement agreement by UEFA, yet Paris Saint-Germain continue to spend with wild abandon and seemingly no consequences. Is it that simple, though?
Much has been said about the fairness of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, which came into effect back in 2010. This set of rules delves deep into the financial obligations clubs must adhere to, and are centered around two main areas as indicated by UEFA: the obligation, over a period of time, to maintain balanced books and the obligation to meet all transfer and employment commitments.
Expanding further, one of the purposes of FFP is to not only place certain spending restrictions related to generated revenue, and prevent clubs from investing excessively beyond their financial means, but also to help keep the game on as even a playing field as possible.
Yet, while most of the revenue earnings are readily accessible to the public, there are still eyebrows being raised surrounding FFP and whether all clubs are being dealt with equally.
Roma and Inter are the first two Italian clubs that come to mind with regards to FFP regulations based on the fact that both seem to be regularly working each summer to avoiding sanctions from UEFA.
Meanwhile, major outfits like Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Real Madrid are capable of splashing a ton each summer without much of the hassle that comes along with balancing the books through departures.
Of course, as UEFA laments on their official site, another main principle of FFP is “to encourage clubs to operate on the basis of their own revenues,” which has been difficult for Italian outfits because as a league, Serie A isn’t generating nearly as much as some of the other top leagues - the Premier League as the primary example.
The Premier League’s revenue sharing is leaps and bounds beyond any of the top five leagues in Europe, allowing even the smaller clubs to spend relatively large amounts each summer after their split – even if they aren’t beneficiaries of UEFA competition slices of the pie.
The Premier League remains arguably the world’s most popular league, so the spending tendencies of some clubs are rationalized based on their high revenue streams.
However, some still feel that others are avoiding certain sanctions solely based on their status, while others continue to struggle each year to operate within the rules, all at the cost of selling top players to make it happen.
With the exception of Juventus who independently own their own stadium and are pretty self-sufficient, many clubs in Italy continue to battle with FFP, leading many to ask whether UEFA is using it fairly for all.
Over the past few years, there have been cases where many do not seem to understand how certain clubs continue to bypass FFP, outspend 90% of the clubs and sacrifice little along the way – notably PSG, who up until last week sailed along relatively unscathed.
The Qatari-owned club were cleared of breaking any of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules following last summer’s major coup of both Neymar and Kylian Mbappé who, after the latter’s option is recorded, exceed €400m in transfer fees. The fact this is an option means the can has been kicked down the road and the real problems could be in next year’s balance sheet.
While the Ligue 1 champions avoided fines, UEFA stated they would be closely monitored, which feels like a light slap on the wrist in the grand scheme of things.
One gets the feeling that Milan are being made an example of to other clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain, for future clampdowns. After all, they are 'only' in the Europa League and haven't been a firm fixture on the continent for some time, so are far easier to deal with than a Champions League contender. Excluding Milan would send a signal, albeit a mixed one, because it seems as if the Rossoneri's biggest fault was not having an objectively rich owner ready to plug the holes. That is the exact opposite of what FFP was meant to encourage.
UEFA’s intentions with Financial Fair Play, among many other things, is to prevent clubs from exceeding their revenue in transfer fees, ensuring they are financially stable and to block investors from flexing their wealth to control the market.
While a possible sanctioning of PSG should they fail to generate €60m in income by June 30 shows minimal improvement in FFP’s governance, it’s ultimately on Italian clubs to do their part, improve their financial standing and continue performing on the pitch as a way to boost revenue that will alleviate the pressure.
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