Arsene Wenger wants fair play rule-breakers kicked out of Europe
Arsenal manager says Manchester City and PSG should face Champions League ban over infractions
Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger: “That’s a basic question you have to answer in England. Do we let it go and everyone spends what he wants?” Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA
Arsene Wenger says that clubs who break European football’s financial fair play regulations ought to be kicked out of the Champions League, as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain prepared to hear the confirmation of their punishments for over-spending.
The Arsenal manager, who has long campaigned for balanced accounting in the game, admitted that the rules were so complicated that even he did not fully understand them. He called for clearer sanctions against those who did transgress, and added that this would come down to bans from club football’s most glamorous competition.
“I think the punishment is sophisticated,” Wenger said. “I would like a more simple one that makes more sense, although they have studied that for a very long time certainly to be in accordance with the legal side of it.
“You would think that you accept the rules and you’re in the competition or you don’t accept the rules and you’re not in the competition. Then, everybody would understand it.”
City and PSG have exceeded the permitted losses of €45m over the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons and the governing body has proposed fines for each club of €60m, together with restrictions on their squads for the Champions League, reducing the number of players they can use in the tournament next season.
Uefa has set the deadline of today for the cases to be settled, appeal processes notwithstanding. City are extremely upset and are considering whether to appeal, whereas PSG are not expected to do so. City argue that the ability to write off the value of contracts signed before 2010 when the rules were unveiled, as well as to write down investments in youth development and infrastructure, has allowed them to narrowly comply.
The squad restrictions are the sophisticated punishment to which Wenger refers. Uefa would assess player wage bills and peg the clubs back in relation to the overspend. It effectively means that managers would not be able to select a proportion of their squad for the Champions League.
“There are rules and you respect them or you don’t respect them,” Wenger added. “If you don’t respect them, you have to be punished. When Uefa doesn’t want to kick the clubs out of the Champions League, they have to find a more subtle punishment.
“To me, and all of us on the outside, it looks a complicated punishment. Nobody understands, really . . .The rules have to be clear so that you can inform people well.
“But if I go out in the street now and I ask a hundred people what you think of the fair play punishment, how many do you think can explain it to you? I’m in the job and I cannot do it. They have to clarify the punishment. We all agree that if we don’t respect the rules you have to be punished. But to explain to people how that works is very difficult.”
City need only a point at home to West Ham United on Sunday to secure the Premier League title, while PSG have already been confirmed as champions of France. It was put to Wenger that it seemed odd that two clubs could win their leagues yet be punished at the same time.
“Of course, there is something wrong,” Wenger said. “I plead that for years. There are two ways of thinking about the whole process. You can say: ‘We don’t care, we want the billionaires to buy the big players, they spend what they want.’ Or, you say, ‘We want to keep things fair.’
“If you say to me tomorrow: ‘We give everybody £100m in the 20 Premier League clubs,’ I am OK. I’ll take the gamble. You can start what is a fair competition. It is a bit like how it works in the States, which is the most capitalistic country. They have a more even field of competition. That’s a basic question you have to answer in England. Do we let it go and everyone spends what he wants?”