UEFA’S last wake up call for Clubs on FFP

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UEFA has warned European football faces its “last wake-up call” as it revealed the losses of the continent’s top clubs jumped by 36% to Eur1.64 billion in the 2010 financial year.

UEFA on Wednesday unveiled its fourth club licensing benchmark report with the headline details coming in the financial health of the European game. The report covered the financial figures of 665 clubs – 90% of all top-division outfits – and revealed that while revenues rose 6.6% to reach a record Eur12.8 billion, costs also rocketed by Eur1 billion to Eur14.4 billion. This has led to 56% of clubs making a loss with total debts of Eur8.4 billion.

The figures come as UEFA prepares to implement its financial fair play rules. The rules are set to come into play in 2013-14 and will analyse clubs’ accounts for the previous three years, starting with the current 2011-12 financial year. Clubs competing in European competition will be permitted to lose just Eur45 million over these three years. 

However, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said 13 clubs currently playing in the Champions League and Europa League would have failed the break-even tests required from the 2013-14 season. “It’s the last wake-up call that this red trend has to be inverted very, very quickly if we want to safeguard European soccer,” said Infantino, according to Bloomberg.

Clubs that flout UEFA’s rules could be banned from fielding new players, be deducted points or face limits on squad sizes in European competition, as well as fines and exclusion from competitions. However, while UEFA has as yet been unable to establish whether its proposed sanctions comply with European Union law it has stated its determination to ensure rule-breakers are punished.

Alasdair Bell, UEFA’s senior lawyer, said the organisation is willing to take the “risk” and defend itself in court if a leading club challenged any punishments. “The system is not going to have much credibility if a big club that is in serious breach of the rules is not punished in an effective way,” he said. “For me the sanctions need to be effective enough that people come into compliance with the system otherwise clubs are going to become disillusioned rapidly.”

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