In most cases, money can’t buy happiness. But can it buy success in the footballing world? Unfortunately for football enthusiasts, all evidence suggests that it can, and will, at least in the short-term future, continue to do so.
Despite the Financial Fair Play regulations proposed by UEFA seeking to curb this trend, the sad and undeniable reality is that football is a business, an industry, and that owning a football club is now a lucrative affair and the hallmark of any respected, successful businessman.
Motivated by dollars, rather than the game
This ever-growing investment has made footballing decisions made by everyone from agents, managers, sponsors, chairmen and players, motivated by financial reasons. Players with huge potential and a number of trophy-laden suitors, such as Falcao or Hulk, choose their next destination not based on chances of silverware, history of the club or even its fan base, but on their wages.
Regularly, we read stories, some fabricated but others not, of players such as Raheem Sterling and Wayne Rooney blocking or stalling on a new deal due to dissatisfaction regarding their pay.
What is UEFA doing to curb this trend?
This financial impetus in the footballing world is undeniably a recent phenomenon, with money, sponsorship deals and wages a playing a colossal part in a player’s decision to sign for a club. So, what has been done?
Thankfully, change is coming, but it has taken shockingly long to be implemented. The FFP measures, resulting in Barcelona facing a spending ban during the upcoming transfer window, were introduced to stamp out so-called “football doping”, according to UEFA’s president Michel Platini.
According to Platini, and many football experts, clubs are often spending amounts which exceed their financial capabilities, resulting in accumulation of debt. In short, clubs with net losses exceeding football-related expenditure are at risk of suffering the consequences.
Can we see change?
Have clubs investigated; such as Manchester City and Paris St Germain, suffered enough to make them change their astronomical wage structures and transfer policy? The answer is more nuanced than simply yes, it has worked, or no, the restrictions are not strict enough.
Firstly, the mere fact that it has been introduced, proves that money has become a problem in the footballing industry. However, it has only been implemented for three years, a short time indeed. In addition, the assessment period is a “rolling” one; that is to say an ongoing evaluation of the finances of Europe’s elite clubs.
This is by no means an easy task, particularly with supporters’ groups continuously challenging UEFA’s warnings and sanctions. With these new restrictions, UEFA is certainly heading in the right direction although like any system, it will need time and co-operation from clubs involved to reach its full potential in restoring a healthy financial balance to European football.