UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Initiative, dubbed ‘Platini’s Law’ will come in to effect shortly after the World Cup in 2014 and it states that any club must only spend as much money as they generate. It’s an effort by UEFA president Michel Platini, to curb the trend of foreign investment, particularly in the Premier League it seems. Any club found to be in breach of these new regulations will be expelled (if qualified) from European competition, i.e the Europa League or the Champions League.
Premier League chief Richard Scudamore recently told the BBC that he is fully behind the new finance laws and when asked if English clubs face expulsion from European competition, Scudamore said “Uefa is too sensible, and it’s not in its interests to do so. It’s more about taking the steam out of the system and acting as a speed bump rather than about barring clubs.” Scudamore has to support the new regulations, but still has the interests of the Premier League at heart and doesn’t want to change too much in the rules of the English game which has served it well for over a 100 years.
The Premier League ‘enjoys’ more foreign investment that any other league in Europe, Roman Abramovich has pumped his oil riches into Chelsea while the Abu Dhabi Royal Family have bankrolled Man City’s rise to prominence and it’s fair to say Michel Platini is not a fan.
In 2008, the year Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool made it into the last four of the Champions League, Platini made public his concern that one league is dominating the European scene. In a dig at the Premier League and English football in general he even went as far as predicting our World Cup misery of 2010 (fair enough) but his reasoning behind his prediction was all wrong. He cited a lack of English players in the three teams that made it into the semi-final that year. With Ferdinand, Brown, Scholes, Neville, Hargreaves, Rooney, Terry, Lampard, A.Cole, J.Cole, Bridge, Crouch, Gerrard and Carragher all turning out for their teams, I fail to see where he draws his conclusions from. Especially as Michael Ballack was the sole representative for Germany in the last four, the eventual conquerors of England in the 2010 World Cup.
All that being said, it’s not even the first time that one league as managed to dominate the Champions League, in 2003 the three Italian giants Inter Milan, AC Milan and Platini’s beloved Juventus all made it into the semi-finals, three years earlier Spanish clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia managed the same feat, no such nonsense was talked about then.
When it comes to financial fair play the two big Spanish clubs are more ‘unfair’ than almost anyone. Real Madrid have spent £150 million on Ronaldo and Kaka alone, using money generated through state funds and loans. Barcelona took out a £150 million loan after a decade or so of irresponsible spending , brilliantly summed up in the deal which brought Ukranian defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy to the Nou Camp from Shakhtar Donetsk for £25 million only to be sold back 12 months and 12 appearances later for £15 million. All this after the massively unfair distribution of TV money in La Liga, where Real and Barca clean up, taking home the lion’s share of £600 million, leaving the other 18 clubs no chance of ever challenging their dominance.
If Platini will go as far as banning ‘sugar daddy’ clubs from Europe, I sincerely hope he tackles the financial irregularities at the top of the Spanish league in the same way, but I won’t hold my breath for him to do so.
These regulations might prevent clubs spending over their means, such as the fateful gamble Leeds United made to challenge at the top of the Premier League. On the other hand it will only preserve the status quo and predictable competition that the Champions League is threatening to become. The biggest leveller the big-wigs at UEFA can introduce is an after-tax basic wage cap, apart from a few of the highest paid players throwing their toys out of the pram, I really can’t see where they can go wrong with that.