UEFA relaxing FFP rules - but is it the right thing to do?

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So after two years Michel Platini, has openly stated that UEFA are looking to relax the rules on financial fair play. And as many football pundits, reporters and club owners have argued that it has stifled investment and growth, and instigated numerous legal actions across European courts, what is the right way to change these rules to move forward?

Everyone involved in football in the UK and the rest of Europe wants to avoid the possibility of clubs going into administration. Nobody wants repeats of the way Leeds and Portsmouth have been managed over the last few years, to continue. But it doesn't take a mathematical genius or qualified accountant to understand, that clubs who have multi billionaire owners.

Those that can afford and want to invest their own money, in players and facilities whilst wiping out club debts using their own finances are dramatically different. You can't compare them to clubs simply over spending, and driving themselves into the red and huge amounts of debt. 

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QPR and Tony Fernades, are the latest to question the way that financial fair play rules affect them. As a business man, and club owner he decided to invest £60 million of his own money, into clearing debts generated by the club. In any other industry in the world, he would be praised for his actions. Applauded by his peers for his commitment to his business, and having a long term vision where that investment would stabilise the club for years to come.

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But instead QPR are having to go to court to question the legitimacy of the £58 million fine that the Championship are trying to levy against them. Which no doubt will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in the courts in legal fees, which I am sure Tony Fernandes would rather be spending on QPR or one of his other business interests.

In business not every venture succeeds, business go into administration all of the time, it is normal. Not every company every created will go on to be a success, that is all part of owning a business. The rewards can be massively lucrative, but no business is without risk. In the recession we bailed out the banks, because they are a necessity, without a financial system the world would be dragged into chaos, but even some were allowed to fail.


But if a football club is badly run and goes into administration, it is not the same thing, the world would not end if Portsmouth FC no longer existed. And it would not mean that the club could not start again at the bottom, and work its way up step by step, as any other business in any other industry would have to do.

As football fans we love our clubs we have a tribal affiliation with them, and they become part of our lives and our communities. But that does not mean that they are a business that can't fail! Because in reality they are just that, a business and they can fail.

Anyone associated with a football club in anyway, as a fan, player or a manager all the way up to the owner must understand that. If another business in another sector was badly managed, it would fail and people would lose their jobs. It would have a huge impact on their community, and that is the same for a football club. But in the end it is not the end of the world, life would go on, the sun would still come up and the community would find a way to move forward.

The lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont, famous for his involvement in creating the Bosman ruling is representing a lot of the top clubs in their legal action against FFP. We await to see the outcome of those cases in courts across Europe, and how it changes the ability of UEFA to implement these rules in the future.


But isn't it about time we accepted that people who own football clubs nowadays, are not generally fans or members of the local community. They are entrepreneurs business men generally who have created their wealth abroad, who own a portfolio of interests not just a football club. And the reason they have generally bought a club is to invest their own money to make it grow, and make a return on their investment. Not everyone of these people is going to get this right, and that means that some businesses will suffer.

But can UEFA really tell a billionaire owner that he can't spend his own money on his investment, common sense would say no they can't and Roman Abramovich and Shiek Mansour have shown that this benefits the club and the local community. 

I for one believe that allowing these multi-billionaire owners spend their money freely creates a more competitive landscape, if you stick with the status quo, you end up with scenarios such as the Scottish Premier league where Celtic have no rivals which is not good for football at all.

Nobody wants clubs to go bust and fail, but limiting what the rich investors can pump into the club, to make them competitive is not the answer.

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