Uefa warns Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain their figures must add up
Uefa has warned Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain they will not be allowed to “cheat” its financial fair play rules, as new figures showed the scale of the challenge in stemming the flow of red ink across Europe and it emerged that two English clubs would have fallen foul of the rules had they been in place this season.
Releasing its latest report, which showed cumulative losses of clubs across Europe ballooned from €0.6bn to a record €1.7bn between 2007 and 2011, Uefa said that a simulation exercise based on the last three years had showed 46 clubs would have failed the break-even test.
“It is a hell of a lot of money and a very worrying situation that the clubs have the responsibility to take very seriously. It is not about just one club that might go bankrupt. The whole of football cares, because the consequences of a club going bankrupt are felt across the game,” said Uefa’s general secretary, Gianni Infantino, of the spiralling losses.
Of the 46 clubs that failed to break even, 20 made losses of more than the acceptable total of €45m over three seasons that would lead to sanctions of up to a ban from European competition. Two of the 20 are believed to be Chelsea and Manchester City. The exercise was based on figures for the three seasons between 2008 and 2011 and both clubs remain confident of complying when the first assessments begin for real next spring.
Chelsea posted their first profit of the Roman Abramovich era for their Champions League-winning season of 2011/’12, partly thanks to one-off share dividends, but are expected to go back into the red this year. City’s most recent results showed a loss of €114m.
Infantino insisted City’s deal with Etihad, which will deliver more than €466m over 10 seasons, and Paris Saint-Germain’s jaw-dropping deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority, which will deliver up to €200m per season, would be rigorously scrutinised to ensure they were fair. Expert panels will assess the “fair value” of sponsorship deals and if related party transactions breach them, the relevant amount will be deducted from the break-even calculations.
“Everyone, including PSG, know the rules and knows when they kick in. They know the rules are that they have to generate revenues to cover their costs without cheating,” he said.
Infantino remains confident that the rules, which could see the first sanctions being applied in 2014/’15, “have teeth”. Clubs that exhibit “warning signs” will be investigated by a panel headed by the former Belgian prime minister Jean-Luc Dehaene and sanctions handed down by a separate independent panel.
“When we first discussed FFP it was Chelsea, then you have Manchester City, then it was PSG. Our responsibility is to have a system that works for more than 630 clubs and not look at one club and neglect the rest. Each individual situation will be assessed very carefully by these two panels.”
Infantino pointed to the fact that Uefa has excluded 34 clubs from competition, including Besiktas and Malaga, as evidence it would not hesitate to act if required.