PtG Article 03.03.2010

UEFA ECA agree financial fair play concessions

UEFA agrees to phase in introduction of financial fair play system aimed at creating greater economic stability within football.

UEFA has agreed to make a number of concessions to its new financial fair play system aimed at stabilizing losses at clubs across Europe.

The concessions have been secured by the European Club Association (ECA) and include a phased introduction of the scheme. Instead of starting in 2012, a three-year transition period will begin that same year and the mandatory scheme will not be fully operational until 2015, when clubs will be expected to break even.

"We have clubs that are losing £100 million a year and if we go on in this style, clearly we will have problems,” said ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge yesterday (Tuesday March 2) at the Soccerex conference in Manchester.

“We have some trouble in the economy and in the football industry and it was a good moment to intervene [by UEFA with the fair play scheme]. We agreed with the breakeven criteria and that non-overdue payables need to be faced immediately.”

The ECA’s general assembly was held in Manchester to coincide with Soccerex and 93 clubs from all 53 UEFA members attended and eventually reached unanimous agreement on the new scheme.

The ECA, which was only set up two years ago to replace the unrecognized G14 lobby group confined solely to Europe’s major clubs, also agreed introducing a cap on squads at 25 players but with unlimited use of players under 21 to increase opportunities.

The ECA also wants to try and combat the impact of agents. David Gill, the chief executive of Manchester United and member of the ECA, was also at Soccerex. He said: “Players agents contribute a lot to inflation in football. The details have got to be worked out but essentially we’re moving to a more simplified system.”

The small print of the ECA’s deal with UEFA over the introduction of the financial fair play proposals also appears to need defining.

UEFA’s existing Club Financial Control Panel, which was formally set up six months ago to oversee the body’s club licensing programme, will manage the financial fair play system but the rules have not yet been finalized completely.